What is Love?

I pine to see you yet again,
And though you were but only a friend,
Now I feel you have a part of me,
Which I want to steal back,
So that I can become whole once more,
But can it be done,
Without you by my side?
No I don’t think so,
And if you ask me, my friend,
I would tell you exactly what I think this is,
But I want you to ask yourself,
Ask for once and see if you,
Get the answer to this sweet question,
Is this love?
For love is distance,
For love is being far away,
And not seeing each other for thousands of days.
For love is being upset,
At things which were funny,
Once upon a time.
Let me tell you a story,
Of a boy who thought,
Love is but a figment of the mind,
Never to be true, never to be realized,
Yet when he fell,
He fell so hard,
He came into his senses and he learned of love.
Love is the pain,
Of being separated,
And love is also the joy,
In being separated.
Love is a paradox which none can solve,
And love is a crime, which I absolve.

Tulips

So here we are at last, at the end of another journey. Another round of thank-you’s and goodbye’s need to be done, and I am yet not ready for them. It seems as if only yesterday we met, and somehow time rushes so fast, like sand between the fingers, that you’ve lost almost all of it even if you stop thinking about it just for a while. So why did I choose tulips as the name for the last post? Why not something more conventional? Why not a hibiscus or a chrysanthemum or a lotus?

I associate tulips widely with my nostalgia. This dates back to several years later, when one of the Windows had as its default wallpaper the Tulips. Was it XP? No, XP had the green field. Maybe Windows 2000 or Windows NT or one of those, but it was at that time when I first started using the computer. I used to spend hours trying to draw figures on MS-Paint or play Pinball and beat my own high scores. Those were simpler times. How times have changed now. Now I am a computer engineer, and soon I will become a computer scientist. Where will I get the time to relive those moments? One can never say.

So long. Let me not talk about nostalgia and my previous experiences because that will become both redundant with a lot of my early posts as well as very boring. But the thing is this, and I think you will agree with me on this one fact at least; that nostalgia is something you cannot run away from. You never know what will trigger it, it is like a gunshot, point blank, direct to your brain, and it bleeds out profusely all those memories which have been buried like rubble under big buildings of new thoughts. And then you cannot help but think about them, and join all the broken strings, and tie all the knots, and cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s and it becomes overwhelming and you cannot handle it after a point of time. What do you do then?

You throw the bouquet away.

Seven

It has been almost a month since I posted the last post in Decagon, and Seven is out now. Seven is the most special post for me, and it is because seven has been my lucky charm number since childhood. I remember how when we were small, we had this Children’s Day Fair at our school. For those who don’t know, in India, the fourteenth of November is celebrated as Children’s Day. It is the birthday of our first Prime Minister of independent India, Mr Jawaharlal Nehru. So the schools usually try to make this day special for us; sometimes they show the children a movie, sometimes the teachers perform for us, you know, like dances and one-act-plays. We used to have all this, and along with these, we had a ‘Mela’ or a fair. This fair was only for students, conducted by all the teachers. There were food stalls and game stalls, and a ‘request corner’ where people could dedicate songs to others purposefully and anonymously. The others would keep dancing there, because most of us, at that time, were relatively middle-class people. We did not like to spend much on the fair, so after a while when our money got over, all of us used to come and dance. That was fun. Sometimes a teacher would join us in dancing, before returning to her stall. ‘Her’ because most of our male teachers did not dance, ever. Oh, I almost forgot to mention how seven being my lucky charm is even remotely connected to this.

It was in my class seventh that I first fell for someone. I really liked her a lot, but I could never muster up the courage to go tell her. A year later, in our eighth grade, the same girl dedicated a song to me at the request corner on Children’s Day, and that is when I got to know she liked me too. The entire affair was very short-lived, I was a lamb back then, too afraid to speak up, too afraid to say or do anything, and too concerned with what others would think about me. Turned out that wasn’t girls really looked forward to. Once we broke up, things were never the same again. We stayed friends, got disconnected when we changed schools in the eleventh grade, got back through a tuition class, but never dated again. It was strange how I had mustered up all the courage to take it forward and again lost it in a matter of months.

Seven is the number of evil, much like three. The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of the most objectionable vices that has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen humanity’s tendency to sin. I read about these four years back, and it is a really nice article which shows the development of this theory and how the seven sins have changed over time. I never posted it here because it was not an original article, but I can provide you a link to it, if you ask; but I am sure most of you already know about the seven sins. Martin in his books is very fond of the number seven, he has seven kingdoms, seven knights, seven Gods, and as per latest news, there will be seven books; if things are kept in concordance, there will be seven seasons of the television show it is being churned into right now, though I really hope Martin really lives that long to tie up all loose ends of the book.

February is already here. A month over; this year is moving faster than I thought it would, and rather uneventful. Time passes fast when you do not have memorable things to count at the end of the month. It may be so only because of the work pressure that is trying to bury each of us deep down, but as they say, one hand cannot clap. You need two hands, similarly, you need efforts from both ends, much towards the same goal, so that the resultant force does not become zero because of opposing forces, but doubles due to aligned ones. Have a great month ahead!

Six | Eight

Six

She was six when she first learned about death.

As she walked to school the next day, a cold winter morning, clutching her father’s hand so tight, a plethora of emotions ran through the man who held her hand. He had covered his face with a scarf-kind-of-a-thing, so as to not reveal his face. He would not want the girl to know his father was dead, and he wanted to pretend to be one just as good. But somehow, even in front of the six-year-old, his courage faltered, and he fumbled while walking. The girl saw his eyes, and they spoke. The eyes spoke to each other of the lies they hid within them. “Where is father?” she said softly now, almost about to break into tears.

The man did not have an answer. He wanted to choose between, “He’s gone far away to visit your granny,” and “He has become a star in the sky,” but instead he chose to say, “He’s dead.”
“What is dead?” asked the small girl.
“Dead means you will never see him anymore.”
“Why? Is he angry with me?”
“Yes, he is. Why didn’t you have all your food today?”
“If I have my lunch, will he come see me?”
“He might,” he said, eyes red with lies, shamed to hell.

When she entered the class, her teacher asked why she was late, and she replied, “Because my father’s dead.”
“Who told you that?” the teacher retracted, trying to hide her tears, but her voice had already welled up too much to fake that she was still angry.
It was fascinating to see how the girl didn’t feel sad. She thought it was a trip his father had been to, to a place where her grandparents lived. She thought he was a star in the skies, but also thought it was easy to go up there, once you did good deeds.

As a mother, she narrates the tale to her daughter today. She is six, and she is thirty, pained by her husband’s death, but doesn’t want her child to be the way she was. She has learned, from experiences that were bitter, that truth might hurt, but when it is dark and you are all by yourself, truth is the only thing that will keep you warm, like a bonfire in the winter, like a warm fireplace where the cat huddles herself to sleep, awaiting another morning, another dawn, that will bring back light into her eyes, and she will see clearly albeit the fog, what awaits her on the other side on the road.

Five | Seven

The Five-Year Old

A half and four years have passed so soon,
I didn’t realize how time flies by,
Now I am five, and I go to a school,
Where children like me come and study along.
They teach a lot here, about values and all,
When to say Thank you, when to say Please,
And tell us we should never be ashamed,
Of saying sorry when we’ve done something wrong.
But mother, yesterday, after they blew off the school,
And shot grenades at the local markets too,
None of them said sorry, none of them apologized,
Then, what they did, wasn’t it wrong enough?
If it wasn’t, then why do they say,
These people should be hanged, and named terrorists?
Who is a terrorist mother, is he like us?
Does he breathe the same air we do?
Is he not a man, and does he not have a mother,
Just like you and I do?
He kills so many people,
But if they weren’t killed,
They would still die, one day or the other,
Then why is killing people wrong, mother?
They never talk about this at school,
They don’t have classes on this and that,
And when we ask, our teachers scold us,
And reprimand us, saying we ought know none.
But pray, tell me, I beg of you,
Why do you ask me to become a doctor,
A lawyer, an engineer, a chef, or a banker,
Yet never talk about being a terrorist?

A Sultry Afternoon

I sat in the main hall, flicking through the channels on the television to see if there was anything worth watching at that time of the day. It was unusual for me to stay awake in the afternoon, most of my family prefers a short nap in the afternoon so that they can continue with their work in the evening more efficiently, and so the house was always usually silent, except for the persistent sound that the tap water made on the base of the sink, “Tip, tip, tip.” But after years of hearing that, I had kind of become immune to that sound, just like the chirps of the sparrows who came thirsty, quenching their thirst from the small bowl kept in the balcony during summers.

After a while I switched off the television, went to the kitchen, scanned the refrigerator for food, scanned all the cupboards for anything that would take more than five minutes to eat, then realized that I was not hungry at all, and came back, sat down and switched on the television again. I had to keep it at a low volume, not wanting anyone to wake up from their deep slumbers on some stupid songs or probably a wrestling match, neither of which was on television then though. I looked through the window and there was a mynah near the bowl of water. I tried to open the balcony door ever so slowly so that it wouldn’t fly away, but the screech of the door gave way to its suspicions that I would grab it and probably eat it right there and then, and it fluttered away almost instantaneously. I stood in the balcony for a while, the sun on my face, causing small drops of sweat to trickle down my spine, but I had to be there. The plants needed water, or they would die.

When I looked up at the sky, the clouds were turning black. It would rain soon, it seemed. The bear cloud was gnarling at the mouse cloud, and the dragon cloud stood still where it was. Then in a moment, the bear turned into a woman looking down on the earth, whilst the mouse turned its face towards the dragon. A dragon that would breathe out water, I thought, muffling my hair clumsily as a girl walked by on the street opposite. And then the wind started to blow, swaying the thinner trees so that they almost kissed the ground, many of their leaves falling on the ground and swirling up into the sky like a tornado. The smell of wet mud arose from the garden beside and the dogs ran inside the buildings, whilst the pigeons started flocking into the big tree opposite. I turned back and went inside, closing the door so that the dust wouldn’t turn in. I have always been fascinated by the dust, they seem to me a way nature teaches us the value of memories, and how we sweep both of them out at some point in our lives.

Slowly, the dust settled down, back to the ground from where it rose. The rain helped it cool down, get down to where it was, and taught us that we cannot fly for more than was intended for us. At some point, we need to go back to where we started, and restart the process, over and over again. The sky had no dragons anymore, the black being replaced by white, and the grey with a blue, which would soon turn red and then black. I had always been intrigued by the various colors that the skies could assume, depending on other factors. It taught me how we should sometimes succumb to the circumstances around us, and become a little more complaisant, without bearing any grudges. For come morning, the blackness would wither out again, giving way to fresh dew, the chirps of birds, and a light to guide us through the rest of the day. And depend on it we must.

Abstraction

Don’t some words suddenly rake up old memories? They are the books at the bottom of the shelf, all dusty and full of spiders, and then you need to take it out carefully. The pages are very old, some almost crisp enough to break in two, the binding loose from the middle, the pages more yellow than white, and sometimes you may find a stain of the bottom of a cup kept on the book sometime long ago, things you don’t remember, but you’ll just assume that it happened. But taking it out from the shelf, that must be done carefully, or else, all the other books would tumble down, the old ones will tear off probably, and it would take time to resettle them back onto the shelf again.

Once you have the book, you would probably just look at it. You won’t read it, you know, because of many reasons, one of them being you’ve already read it before, the more important one being you don’t want a plethora of memories to rush in your mind which you know would definitely happen once you open the book. I call this thing abstraction. By definition, abstraction refers to the act where you hide the important details of anything and show only the important parts of it. It is in essence the very value on which our entire life places it base upon. We work on the principle of abstraction. And Computer Science students at school, if you are studying OOP or Java, this might turn out to be an interesting post for you. So let us start from a very basic example. This is going to be the one hundred and seventieth post on this blog. A very big number by my standard. 170. Yes. But pray tell me, how many of you can claim to know me by more than what you’ve read? Abstraction. You comment on my posts, and on other people’s posts, yet most of the times we never talk about ourselves, do we? We sit for an interview, and love to speak of our achievements and victories, and what laurels we’ve brought home, yet seldom we point out our weaknesses. We learn programming languages, and master the art of programming, and algorithms and all that, yet seldom we look into how the compiler or the interpreter works. This is getting too technical. No, that is not the point of this write-up. Let’s come down into something more human. Does your teacher care what the name of your uncle is? No. Abstraction. Does your driver care if you fail an exam? No. That’s abstraction. Filtering out. People keep filtering out all the time. They filter talk, they filter friends, they filter the company that they keep. And then, if we come to see it properly, wouldn’t life be impossible without abstraction?

Yes, it would be. Give it a thought again. Knowing everyone around you, being polite and courteous to them, and knowing everyone’s name. Wouldn’t that be a horror? How many of you watch Game of Thrones? I bet a lot many. Tell me, how many Walder Frey’s are there in the Frey family? And how many Brandon’s are there in the Starks? Lots right? Generalization. They aren’t important, don’t care about them, don’t burst your mind into remembering them. Martin teaches us abstraction that way. Bookish examples now, when you press the accelerator, the car speeds up, without you having to care about the internal workings. I am not going to talk about programs here, they bore me as much as they bore you, and you could probably find thousands of examples and text about it if you go on a technical site. My point here is to tell how it relates to life. And how we, in our everyday life, constantly use abstraction to make our lives simpler.

Do you have an Android phone? Oh, does it have a camera? Yes? Oh, how many megapixels? Has anyone ever asked you these questions in exactly the same order? Or have you ever asked them the same? Going from the more general question to the more specific one? Did you also ask whether the processor was Qualcomm and how many cores were there? Probably no, you cared only about the camera because you were secretly wishing to click a picture for your Facebook account if the camera was good. That, is abstraction. You get the idea, right? Basically what I want to drive home here is that you may be studying all this today and feel that this is a load of crap, that you would be better off writing programs than knowing what concepts OOP works on. But believe me, it is more than the computer. It is more than the language and the program and the application that you make. It is life. And to lead it, and to understand how you are leading it, is important. That is the key to happiness. Don’t go into the details. Just have an overlook of everything. Don’t ponder over everything you read. Don’t fret. Be happy. Use abstraction. Today. What the hell did you read just now?