#4 – The Beginning

Sometimes I dreamed about Father. He looked thinner than when I last remember seeing him, and I always had the same dream. He pushing me to and fro on a swing in a lush green meadow on a spring afternoon, and we are both happy and shouting, and suddenly from out of nowhere a riot breaks out, people come towards us holding lathis and guns, and Father standing in front of me, protecting me from all of them, and shouting, “What do you want?” And instead of getting a reply, someone shoots him, and he falls. That was the dream. And the same dream kept on coming every now and then; I did not know why. This had never happened in real life. In real life, Father was quite different. He used to toil hard on the fields and by the time he came back home, he hardly had any energy left to strike a conversation with Mother or me. He used to eat, then take out a bottle of rum from one of his cupboards, drink and go off to sleep. He was very silent at home, no fun and no frolic, unlike the dream. Perhaps the dream was what I really wanted in my real life, only the former part of the dream though.

How I ended up in this city with Aunt and Uncle and Sam is a long story, and it starts way back with my grandmother. Grandma was nearly seventy and she needed treatment for her ailing back. It was not possible where we lived, and so Mother and Father arranged for her trip to the city. Since she was to go alone, and since that was unsafe given the current situations (riots had just broken up in Delhi and a lot of people were being killed unnecessarily, and a lot of trains were being burnt without any reason), my parents decided it would be nice if I could accompany her. Not that I would be of much help, they knew that. But then that was not how it all started. To start would mean to go to the beginning and explain how all of our lives intersected and how I am what I am today. It all started back in 1932 when in a small house in a corner of the world, a baby was born.

In autumn he was born and was a fair lad. A few more autumns came and went by and he struggled to live the way he wanted. For around him were talks of independence and wars. He saw Gandhi walk around, and did really consider him his idol, and in one of those fair summers, he learned how it felt to breathe freely. 15th of August it was and it was 1947, and the British had left India in the hands of Indians and then what we did of that all of us know. He married the prettiest girl in town and they had a gorgeous daughter who married a handsome man and they had a handsome son and thus I opened my eyes to this world. It all seemed distant now, yet to go to the beginning sometimes means to search for one’s roots, search what one actually came here for, and try to live up to that motto once you finally find out your purpose.

And so that was how it all began. My life. And a few years later, so it was that I was transported along with Grandma’s luggage to a posh town, where everything was ten times faster, where breathing required skill, and where being rustic meant you were stupid. Yet it had only started. As Grandma used to say, “Child, this is only the beginning.”

Does It?

Do you still wake up the same way like you did,
When you were in India?
Does the sun still share its light the same way,
Like it does in India?
Do the trees still shed leaves in autumn like they did,
When they were in India?
Do people still talk about love and hope,
Like they did in India?
Do you still exchange gifts in Id, like you did,
When you were in India?
Do they still look the same, like they did,
When they were in India?
How does it feel different then?
Pray tell me, what is different?
Does not the moon shine bright at night,
Do not the fields grow crops anymore?
Does not the rooster still crow in the morning,
And does not the smoke come out of chimneys?
What has changed then, how are you different?
Does it not pain when your loved ones leave,
Does it not hurt to give birth to a child,
Are you not loved by your neighbors anymore?
What has changed, how is it different?
Do you still get the smell of wet mud,
When it rains in India?
Do you still hear the shouts of Holi,
Do you still see the lights at Diwali,
Do you?
How is it different then, than what it was,
Pray tell me, I don’t understand.
Why do you fight now, when you didn’t fight then,
Why do you, what has changed?

*inspired from the song ‘Husna’ by Piyush Mishra*

Quick – Chapter 3

There were a hundred things that I could not comprehend right now. The most important was what to do next. For clearly, there were at least two things that had engulfed my mind so much that I could not think of anything else. One was that house. How could one possibly live in such a small house? And I still felt something important was missing from that house. I could not make out what, but something wasn’t there, it felt incomplete. Second, why did I have to say, “I am from India too”? I was from India okay, but she kind of didn’t look much of an Indian. What was I missing out on? The week had only started and I was already full of questions. I had to stay here for another ten days. Just ten days. Keep calm and you can return home happily after ten days. But what was missing in that house? The thought kept coming back. The phone buzzed off.

“Hello?”

“Hi,” said a voice on the other side. “Sir, are you from India?”

“Yes,” I said, unsure of what else I could say.

“Cool, Sir. Your cab is waiting in front of your building. You have a golf match in an hour.”

“What? But I..”

She hung up.

In all my life, I had seen only one golf match, let alone play one. What was going on? I had an eerie feeling something was not going right. I needed to talk. I needed to see her. I needed to know what was happening. Dressing up took another ten minutes and I was downstairs.

“Guten morgen”, said the chauffeur.

I responded with the only four words I knew in their language, and which I had been using for the whole of yesterday. “Ich verstehe nicht Deutsch”, I said. I had to go to her house before we went to play golf, or whatever that meant. I asked the chauffeur if he knew English.

“Little bit.”

“Okay, so we’ll first go to…”, I said, handing him the address which I had written down on a piece of paper.

“Okay.”

Once I reached, I sprang down and paced up to her house. It was locked. I asked the neighbor whether he had an idea when she would return.

“No Sir. To the best of my knowledge, no one stays in this house.”

Rubbish. I thought I should write a note and slide it through under the door. She would probably read it and respond.”Hello, I came to your house today. It was locked. Your phone isn’t reachable either. Please let me know when you would be here.” I was about to slide it through under the door, when I suddenly realised how futile it was going to be. The keys had been slid through already, and it was intentional. She wanted me to open the door. I took the key, a single one, no bunch, no fancy. Once I was inside the room I looked through the entire house again. I had to comprehend what it was that was missing.

After a few minutes, things started becoming a bit more distinct. There was indeed something missing. There was no cupboard. No place to keep her clothes. And there were no clothes anywhere else yesterday. The neighbor was correct. No one stayed in this house. I locked the door, slid the key under it, and left.

Quick – Chapter 1

“Hello,” she said.

“Hi, I am from India too”, I said.

“Yeah, cool, have a seat. So what plans do you have this weekend?”

“Well, I haven’t made any as such right now, but I may just, you know, try to roam about a little and try to find out more about this place may be.”

“Oh, or you could come over to my place.”

“What?”

“You could come over to my place. We could have a cup of coffee together and then leave to see the town.”

“Yeah cool. That would be nice.”

“Better than you think.”

“Okay..”

“Cool, I need to leave now. This is my number. Leave me a message. Okay? Bye.”

“Bye.”

Holidays Over

Hello readers! How’s everything? It has been long since I have posted something that actually made sense, and I have explanations to vindicate that, though I’ll keep it aside for now. I want to take this opportunity to first express my gratitude all my readers all over the world; over months this blog has earned your fondness, and that is all what I write for, to develop a fondness towards reading and writing. The visits have increased tremendously; for me even two thousand is tremendous because when I had started to write I did not expect this rate of turnover. Thank you all for that. There’s a popular saying in Sanskrit, “Atithi Devo Bhavaha”, which means that Guest should be treated just as you would treat God, and I have always tried my best to keep up to it. I hope I have succeeded, if only a bit.

I returned to college today, after a long vacation of over two months. And since I have no work at the moment, I might as well tell you what all I did this summer. I know no one would be interested in the unraveling of a twenty-year old collegiate, but still, how does that matter? I want to write. 😀 So let me start. I completed watching all the episodes of Tintin which I had, and Small Wonder too. I collected seventy-eight episodes of Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, and finished them. I watched Hindi movies, so many of them, some old, some new, some for the first time, some the second time. Among first times were Jab We Met, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Guzaarish, Kites, Delhi Belly, Shaitan, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Ready, Ajnabee and others. Among second and nth times were Race, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, and some more, can’t recall right now. I watched an English movie Dinocroc vs Supergator, which was fun. I watched all the episodes of Roadies 8. Roadies 8 ended pathetically, I must say. I didn’t miss a second of Coke Studio @ MTV, and neither did I miss a minute of Stuntmania Underground. I watched WWE one day, and it reminded me of days in high school when I did the same.

At other times I read. I finished “The Namesake”, and read a part of “The Guide”, which bored me. “The Namesake”, by Jhumpa Lahiri, is quite a decent book. Gogol, the protagonist, is named after his father’s favorite author, Nikolai Gogol. But growing up in an Indian family in suburban America, the boy starts to hate the awkward name and itches to cast it off, along with the inherited values it represents. Determined to live a life far removed from that of his parents, Gogol sets off on hi own path only to discover that the search for identity depends on much more than a name. You must read the story if you can. I finished writing a beginner’s tutorial to Java, a programming language, which I will be putting up soon on this blog. I tried to wet my hands on C++, another language, which I don’t know much about. I bought new clothes, misplaced my watch,  I visited my friends and relatives, had fun, ate at various places, drove on random roads, and visited the doctor. And most importantly, I slept. A lot.

Yet, as always, you cannot have one side of a coin. You need to have both. You cannot deny. My local SIM card stopped working, and I could not contact any of my friends for a long time. My broadband gave errors, due to which I could not access the internet for almost a fortnight, after which I bought myself a USB modem which allowed me to use the internet at terribly low speeds. Grief struck the whole family as my uncle expired after four massive heart attacks in six days. There were other things to be sad about, but they all looked minute and insignificant in the darkness of this.

I would like to keep this short, so well, that’s all for now. Will be putting up new poems, stories, and experiences soon. See you soon. Good bye for now. Stay safe, stay happy.

What is Time?

Yesterday I was flipping through the channels, when I came across a channel where Javed Akhtar, a famous Indian lyricist, was reciting. I stopped at the channel, but unfortunately, the show had been going on for long and I could listen to only two verses and then it ended. He recited one in Hindi which he titled “Yeh Samay Kya Hai”. There were a particular number of lines which I remember, I loved them, and since I do not remember his exact words, I am writing in my own words. I thought it necessary to make the above statements, since this post is not completely original. The words of the prose ARE ORIGINAL, the thought is not.

What is time? When I travel in a train, it feels as if I am stagnant and the trees around me are moving. But the truth is not so. Actually I am moving and the trees and the surroundings are stagnant.

Similarly, can it be that it isn’t time that is moving, in fact, time is constant? It stands there, straight in a row, centuries after centuries, millenniums after millenniums, and it is we who move through them. This means that what already had happened is happening now, and whatever will happen is happening now, only the people concerned are different. Can it happen so?

What is time? If it has already passed, then where is it now? It has to be somewhere. If it is going to come, where does it stay before it comes? It has to stay somewhere. From which mountain does it arise and to which sea does it go? It has to go somewhere. Then, what is time?

Walking through the Slums

Walking Through the Slums
Walking Through the Slums

Is it the city, or the village? Or rather a hybrid of both? Walking through the slum, I felt as if a new world had opened it horizon to me, a unique type of life I had never come across till today.. a simple yet complicated one, a sad yet satisfied one, a wry smile on the faces of all, with a sure hope that happiness will knock on their doors certainly one day..