Absence

Far away in a different world,
Where the moon glows bright and the sun sleeps throughout,
You cuddle in my arms and lull off to sleep,
Whilst I stare at you and learn what love is about.

I appear strong and tell you it’s okay,
And you ask me to chill out,
For things will get back to how they were in a while,
So what is this fuss all about?

But like an overdose of alcohol,
Which people remember never to repeat,
An overdose of your absence,
Is killing me underneath.

It’s about the fact that never have I ever,
Loved anyone as much as you,
You’ve sunk deep into my thoughts and my dreams,
Of which left in my life are very few.

So tonight before you go off to sleep,
Imagine you are with me,
In a world where nothing else matters,
And where our hearts are free.

And I’ll pull myself a bit closer to you,
You’d come a little more closer to me,
And I’d smile and keep my brows straight,
Like you’ve always wanted them to be.

Jasmines

What I often miss in the day, or which pass away as fleeting thoughts, come back at night to me, raking old memories and thoughts, and propagate a chain of dreams, so that when I wake up, I feel my subconscious laughing away at my conscious as to how ignorant it could be of such simple facts. And if that does not make sense, let me tell you what happened yesterday so that you could sympathize with me and understand my position.

It is not in my habit to wind up long sentences to explain what I feel. I just blurt out what I do feel, as much in real life as in my posts. But with wishes, it is different. When I wish for something that I know I will not get, I do not let tongue give voice to them. But here they are, my dreams, which act as a wish-fulfilment and force me to pen down these thoughts here. For I would have never given them a second thought unless I dreamt of what I dreamt yesterday. Before I begin, let me tell you what happened a week earlier.

So it was last Monday which was my last day at office. All but my closest friend S were present at this occasion. It would have been a long celebration, but was cut short because I had not much to say about the matter. I could have given them long speeches about what is right and what is wrong, and how we should follow our dreams, and at least try to understand them so that we might learn of what we want, but I did not say anything. One of the reasons was also that I was missing S at the occasion, and since we had only parted a couple of days before in a hurry where our farewell was kind of clumsy and incomplete.

No wonder my dream took this string of thought and wound it up completely, so that yesterday in my dream, I was present at my farewell and S was present too. It would have been okay if this was the only alteration, for that would have made sense to me regarding my wishes. However, it is the second alteration in the occasion that makes me think about it. Let me now introduce you to my colleague A, who shares his name with my best friend from school. My best friend (also called A), as you might be aware, passed away in 2010. In my dream, he substitutes the person with the same name, such that now he was my colleague. But now my mind had a goal to achieve, namely, to furnish me a proof that this was in fact possible. To do this, it fabricated a very rich story, which I would like to share with you. It may sound absurd, for it was a dream after all, but the details in it were so true that it cannot be kept muffled in my heart for long.

I see that soon after his death, a couple of months later in fact, it had so happened that news had arrived that my friend was in fact found somewhere below in the country where the river leads. I go down and in the middle of a field which is full of jasmines, I see my old friend again. I joke with him and tell him how funny it is going to be when everyone else gets to know about this fact too. Then my dream simultaneously transports back to the office, and I pat his back and ask him to accompany me to the café. But however suddenly, I realize that he does not work at my office and now his face is distinctly superimposed with the actual face. I wake up, and I try to remember where my friend is currently working, and what happened to him, when after a moment I realize that I was in fact dreaming and that he has been gone since forever. Thus my sleep breaks and I wake up.

It is funny how when I write this I feel I had so much more to write but I cannot pen down anything more. In fact I do remember a scene where we are having lunch, but it is a dim cave with yellow lights and lots of people, and we sit on the floor later with our food, but I do not remember where that figment goes and how it ends up. And hence this post must be left incomplete as such, because I find it strange that such a queer post be given a fitting conclusion. All in all, I must say that now onwards, whenever I hear of jasmines or see them or smell them, I know I will invariably be drawn back to the field in my dreams, and be forced to think of the prospects and the imaginary life that I could have led were this dream to stand true in front of me.

Bouquet

What if I handed over to you a bouquet of flowers? Would you keep them by your bedside, and look at them once a while? Would you water them until they die, and wish silently that they stayed forever, now that I am not there to take its stead? I don’t think so. I have a feeling you’d rather forget me and get busy with your chores and affairs of your daily life, making me only a reminiscent of a candle that once existed but has now outlived its purpose. Bouquet is a collection of five such posts where I have tried to bring to life my innermost thoughts. They are not outstandingly good articles; they are just what an average guy would feel and write when his mind is full of different thoughts when each of them are at war against each other to gain the maximum amount of space in one’s mind.

The race between thoughts and the conflicts of the mind, and the way they affect us is what Bouquet talks about. How an array of emotions can get beaded up into a string just by the force of thought, forgetting the limits of space and time, of continuum, and of life itself, is what makes thoughts and dreams such an important part of our life. Bouquet celebrates dreaming and urges you to dream more, so that you can achieve more. It talks of love, and it talks of grief. It talks about success, and failure, and how they can coexist.

So without much ado, here are the five posts which I have collected in this small collection. They are
1. Jasmines
2. Lavenders
3. Roses
4. Lilies, and
5. Tulips

I hope you have a good time reading them as much as I loved writing them, and that we might understand each other a little better after all this is said and done.

The Hitchhiker

Hello everyone. I am back now, albeit for a short period, and you would want to know what I have been up to. So here’s that then, for there’s not much to be told, apart from of course what I have been up to. So I just finished with my copy of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. It is a wonderful read. It is funny, it is dreamy, and it is carved beautifully into five parts which somehow just manage to intermingle and join up towards the end.

So what is this book all about? Well, the story revolves around a couple of friends and couple of their friends, who travel through time and space to save the universe and to find unexpectedly, the answer to Life, Universe and Everything. If there is one utmost important thing that this book teaches us, it is to never expect anything from life, for it is almost always the opposite of what you get. Another important thing that this book puts forward is that you do not need to write poignant pieces of tales, or very deep thoughts, to make it to the Classics list. Trust me, this is one of those books you’ll never regret after reading.

So that’s that then, for there is nothing much more to tell, and for this is not a book review forum, so I will not critique what has been written, for my job was to read it, and enjoy it to the fullest, and that was what I did. Coming back to my life, well, Happy new year once again, though it is quite late to wish you so, I’ve started with this new book. It’s a novel by Rabindranath Tagore, called ‘The Home and The World’, a translation of the very famous Bengali classic ‘Ghore Baire’. It is a pleasant read, and I have only been through the first couple of pages, so let’s wait till it gets over.

That much for now. I will be back again with more introspection when I am in the mood for introspection, which is definitely not today, but might happen some day soon. Bye then, and have a good day, and do grab a copy of the Hitchhiker if you can.

Return – Chapter 8 – Finale

Losses are what make us what we are. A lost cause this was. There could be no good ending to this, not even a satisfactory one. For I had thought of something and it turned out completely different, though in a way it had all been my fault. But so be it. I had learned to cope with myself, with the problems that I created for myself, and then never solved them for I was ever too afraid to face them. As I sat silently at Irtiqa’s grave, someone patted me on my back. I turned around. It was Shaena. I looked at her teary-eyed. She looked at me silently. No words were exchanged. But we did speak. Our silence had given words to thoughts in our minds. And we both knew what the other was thinking. And yet we kept quiet, waiting for the other to start speaking. I knew I should have begun, but somehow I had made up my mind to never strike a conversation by starting it on my own. And so I pretended to be dumb, looking at one’s grave now, while the other stood behind me.

When I turned back to look at her, I was spellbound for a moment. For it was not Shaena who stood, but Irtiqa. And she looked poignantly at me. “Irtiqa,” I gasped for words. But none came. For now was not the time for words. “Do not make a decision in haste,” she said. I asked, “What do you mean?” but by then the moment was gone. The face had now changed. Now stood my mother in front of me. It was as if someone had plotted to show me my entire past through her. “Come back, home,” she whispered. I knew it was a lie, a dream, a manifestation of my wishes and a by-product of my dreams, for the same woman had shut her doors on me only a while back. I rubbed my eyes. It was Shaena again.

“Here’s the key,” she said, “to your home. It’s yours now.”

For a while, I stared blankly at her. Only when it hit me like a rock on the head that I fumbled on the ground. “You do not mean what I understand, right?” I asked. I felt like shouting loud and hitting my head against the ground, but now was not the time for foolishness. “Give speech to tongue,” I shouted, “What do you mean?” She looked at me teary-eyed now. “She said you should come back home. Those were her last words.” And throwing the key at me, she ran across the street and I saw her changing into a silhouette and then only a shadow of the past. No, another death was not something I could handle at this moment. Not now. What had happened of my life? Was this the way it was supposed to end? Hadn’t I better plans when I first started? My head was throbbing now, and I fell to the ground. As the world around me started to fade, there was only one thing I repented about. This return.

Call of the Mountains – [4]

Read the previous part in Part 3.

[7]

After a long drive that seemed to go on forever, we finally reached Chandratal. Among lush green fields we walked bare-footed, and shouted loud and clear and there was no reply, for there were only us there. We lied down on the grass now, which was slightly moist with last night’s dew, yet it felt refreshing to lie down, the sun’s rays beaming upon my face, a warmth long wished for, and the breeze slowly making its way across the valley, streaming through my hair, I could have fallen asleep and never got up again. A bit later, we walked down towards the lake. On my left was a cirque, going on for miles and miles. On the right loomed high mountains. And in front stood magnificently the Moon Lake. A crescent shaped lake, half of it reflected green of the mountains and the other half reflected the blue of the sky. It was one of the most picturesque moments I have ever had in my life. It was enthralling to imagine that we would be here the entire day, though I had no clue what we would do, since there was absolutely nothing else to do here. We climbed up a hill and walked down a dale, and then we lay flat for a while again. High above in the sky a lark made rounds, persistent enough, yet never swooping down.

Earphones in my ears, the song now playing was ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin. The guy said, ‘There’s a lady who’s sure, all that glitters is gold’, and I dreamt of her again. She came ever so frequently in my dreams in this trip. Never had I known that she would overpower my thoughts so much, but there she was again, clinging to my dreams, like a spider to its web. “There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure, ’cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.” As I lay there thinking about the times I had misinterpreted what she said, as she my words, thoughts took shape of reality. It was as if each incident re-enacted itself in my mind, with ever so slightly a change, showing alternate endings. Yet the line that has always gripped me would be, “there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” How many times must I change my road? How many times must I switch between the two alternates, never able to see where it takes me, the end forever taking different forms and figures, such that I must always be in darkness, never knowing which path I should have always stuck to.

We started walking back now. Ahead lay our tents, though we had to look for them awhile. The rest of the day went pretty much uneventful. We had a meagre lunch of rice, pulses and some boiled potatoes. I slept for a while but it was too cold. I came out. My friend had gone down to the river beside. I did not feel like going, not even laze about there. I went and sat in the bigger tent, the one which was warm, but only because the guy constantly burned some coal in there. Already I could see the sun hiding behind the clouds. It would rain soon, I thought. No, the guy in the tent replied. It never rains here. Too cold. Only snows. Great, I thought. That was probably the last thing I wanted on this trip. It had been great till now, but now I was a bit frustrated. Probably it was the lack of communication, perhaps it was just sheer homesickness, or perhaps the wind was too cold and my brain had stopped working. The latter seemed the most plausible, because my head was already bursting, as if someone hammered on it from the inside. I was told it was because at this height, oxygen does not reach the brains sufficiently, causing the excruciating pain and also a numbness. Great again, I thought. Exactly what I needed to top my anxieties.

We also met some other travellers out here. A French who had been here for a couple of days now wanted tips whether to go to Kaza or Kalpa. He had started the trip in the opposite direction, and so we knew what he anticipated and he knew where we were going. He was a friendly guy, though he talked really less. He had a map where he had marked all the places he wanted to visit and all those he had already been to. As we sat around the heater warming ourselves and sipping tea in plastic cups, the manager-cum-cook narrated the famous Spitian folklore about Chandratal. The story goes back to more than a hundred years ago, when a lazy shepherd in the village of Rangrik decided to go to Chandratal as he had heard a lot about its beauty. It was far from where he lived and a difficult trek but he thought it would be excellent to escape his wife and her nagging. So he left and walked for many days over mountains and passes. Finally when he was almost worn out he caught sight of the lake. It was indeed beautiful and he was so moved he sat down to play his flute and was soon lost in its music. When he opened his eyes a fairy stood before him. She said, “Hello, Gangrup, I am the Chandra Tal fairy.” She told him how his music drew her to the shores of the lake, and that she had fallen in love with him. She asked him to come and live with her in her kingdom under the lake. “I will love you and keep you happy, if you play your flute for me and love me,” she said. So Gangrup went with her to her underwater kingdom and they were very happy there through summer. Then as winter came the fairy asked Gangrup to go back home. He was unhappy and didn’t want to go as he knew he would miss her. The love he had received was everything for him, and he knew his life would never be the same at home. But she said he would have to go, but he could come back next summer. She would miss him too and await his return. But she warned him not to tell anyone about them else they would never be able to be together again.

Gangrup’s family was overjoyed to see him as they had thought he had perished on the way when he did not return for months. Winter set in and Gangrup drank and slept as always, doing nothing else. One night when he was really drunk his wife was nagging him about some work she wanted done, he turned to her and said: “Shut up woman, don’t nag me else I will go away to the Chandratal fairy. She loves me.” Saying so, he downed his drink and passed out. The next morning he remembered what had happened and started to wail out loud. Everyone was concerned and kept asking him what happened but he just kept weeping. He passed the rest of the winter in mad grief and as soon as summer set in he left for the lake.

When he finally got there he took out his flute and started to play. Soon enough the fairy emerged. She said, “Good bye Gangrup. You’ve broken your promise, and in doing so, my heart.” So saying she left. Gangrup fell to his knees and called after her. A while later she emerged holding a bundle. Gangrup was overjoyed thinking she had forgiven him, but she said “This is our daughter, born of our love. Take her back with you.” Gangrup looked down at his daughter and gasped. She was the ugliest thing he had ever set eyes on, covered in warts and boils and was very ill. He didn’t want to touch her but then filial love won and he took her along. However she died on the way. Broken hearted, Gangrup took her all the way home. His family was stunned when he told them she was his daughter from the Chandratal fairy. He buried her and built a memorial for her in the house. From then on his luck changed and his family became rich. After all, the little girl was also a Nortin (fairy). His line is still alive today though they have moved to a new house (the old house still stands in ruins). They moved the memorial to the new house too and it can be still seen today.

As he finished narrating the folklore, the cook slowly stood up, and now we went back to our tents to sleep. The night was cold. Minus five degrees was the temperature and we were almost freezing. My head was pounding ever more and to sleep was very difficult. Still somehow we snatched a few hours of sleep for tomorrow our going would be tougher. When I woke up next, it was early in the morning and the clock had just struck four. We packed our bags and got ready to leave. We were going to have a long day ahead, and hopefully we would reach home if we could somehow make good time. But our journey had not seen its end, and more places lay ahead before we’d finally sleep comfortably on our beds.

[8]

We started our descent now. The road was bad, and our car moved slowly. At many places we had to get out and push the car so that it reached level ground. At many places, the waterfalls intersected the roads, and being early morning, we stepped over ice-flakes made by the waterfalls. My socks were wet, and I had to remove them, and they instantaneously became numb because of the cold. After a long while, we finally came to the intersection of the Chandratal route with the Kaza-Keylong route. Here we took a U-turn just before the Kunzum pass. Our next destination – Lahaul Valley.

Across the Lahaul Valley we sped, though the road was still stony and the going was nonetheless difficult. It would be so until the next mountain pass, after which the road would get better. Lahaul is greener than Spiti, and a bit more populated. Now and then we spotted travellers. These travellers usually preferred cycling on these routes, and all of them either had high-tech bicycles or heavy motorbikes. After a couple of hours or more, we finally reached the Rohtang Pass. The road would be better here onwards, they said. I could hardly have wished for anything else in the world. Rohtang actually means a pile of corpses in the local language, and the name was so given due to the number of people dying in bad weather trying to cross the pass. The pass provides a natural divide between the humid Kullu Valley with a primarily Hindu culture (in the south), and the arid high-altitude Lahaul and Spiti valleys with a Buddhist culture (in the north). The pass lies on the watershed between the Chenab and Beas basins. We had now left the Sutlej in its course and had joined to follow the course of the Beas. It is said that the Mahabharata, a great Indian epic, was written on the banks of the Beas river. A diversion of the road takes one to Leh, though that was not the road that any of us save one really sought to pursue. And pursue it we didn’t. We would now make our way down to Manali, pass through Kulu and finally cross Chandigarh on our way back home to Delhi.

At Manali, we stopped finally, because no more could we stay hungry. Nestled in the Beas River Valley, which had followed us all the way from the Rohtang, this small town is the beginning of an ancient trade route to Ladakh and from there over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin. Once we were full and I had got back into the car, instantaneously I fell asleep. The journey had been tiring and we were ever so close to the end, and yet my eyes would not stay open for it had now not rested for over a day. I slept and dreams clouded my mind. I was now in a shackle, legs and hands tied. A hookah lay in front of me, but it appeared to have been used up long ago; the coal was not burning anymore. I looked up to see a small window, which allowed a tiny amount of light to come in, but only enough that I could see the walls of my room. It was a tiny one, the walls of broken cement, and the floor was only dust. I tried to stand up, but the weight of the cuffs held me down. I appeared to be hungry, and there was some food in a plate beside, but flies hovered on it, it seemed the plate had been here for a long time. I tried dozing off, but sleep would not come. I heard shouts outside, some ceremony was being held, or maybe a battle-cry? I did not know what it was, for I had no idea where I was. Then I heard the sounds of my door opening. Looking up, I saw his face. It was him. All these years I had been looking for him, and here he was. So he wasn’t dead after all. In this strange country, I finally found him again. “Where are we?” I asked him. “Hell,” he said. I smiled. The years had turned his sense of humor to a sour satirical one. The day was growing old now, and we sat inside the cell. He had brought some pieces of coal, and we smoked the hookah until we were both very high. I knew he was dead, I saw him dying, seven years ago it was, but he was here, maybe I was dreaming? I pinched myself and it did not hurt, so I knew I was. But I could not get out of the dream. My eyes would not open. What kind of sorcery was this? I asked him, and he only smiled. “You’ve been defeated,” he said. “You have been defeated, my friend”. I did not understand, and he did not want to explain, so I just let it be. Then the doors opened again and two soldiers came in. Now they held me tight, and asked me how I came here. I told them I did not know, and one of them held me tight and started shaking me with all his might. Bam, the dream was gone. I was awake now, and we had crossed Kulu already.

The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful, we stopped once for tea, and another time for dinner. It was late night when we finally reached Chandigarh. Here we changed our cab, and hailed one for Delhi. Home would be a reality soon. Only yesterday it seemed a distant possibility. It was four in the morning when I finally reached home. I laid eyes on my precious. It had been waiting all this while for me. I jumped upon it, my precious bed. For years now, I would remember this trip. Sometimes moments are created when you least expect them to. I honestly had far lesser expectations from this trip than what it provided. The walk-man was playing ‘Leaving on a Jet-plane’ now, and I welcomed the lullaby as I dozed off to sleep.

Well that was all about my trip. I did overshoot the length I had thought I would limit it to, but sometimes less is not enough. I will be back with more posts soon, and till then, keep reading! Bye.

Lost

This is a story of all I’ve lost,
All those who believed in me once,
All those who I thought
Would stay here forever.
All those who were my people.
My people.

But there’s a river always,
And there’s the other bank,
And I’ve seen you go to the other side,
And there are beliefs there too.
Yet I’ll come there sometime,
If I’m strong enough,
To fight against the currents,
And to fight against the odds.

But what’s in store for tomorrow,
Nobody knows,
And the clocks go tick-tock tick-tock,
And I keep losing my faith,
And my people,
And they lose their faith,
And me,
An endless cycle.

But all’s not lost, there is a ray of hope,
Shining from behind the clouds,
Which cloud my mind presently,
Making me unable to see what’s across it,
Whether it’s a silver lining,
Or are there endless clouds,
Hiding the sun, my source of energy,
I don’t know,
And nobody can tell me, unless they go.

This is a story of all those who I have lost,
To love.
Because sometimes,
Love is a poison,
One which comes back to get you,
To destroy you, and to harm you forever.
Memories hit me,
Like cold gales lashing across my face,
Of things that had best remain unsaid,
That had best remained undone,
But were done, in the moment,
Not foreseeing the future,
And here I lie, in despair,
Thinking about it without a course.

And there are others that I’ve lost,
To time.
For time is like sand, forever slipping between fingers,
No matter how hard you close your fist,
People, memories, happiness, friends,
Dwindle out.
Like the candle, having served it purpose,
Reduces to wax, and a part of it,
Forever stuck to the floor,
Like memories,
The memories of my people.

I’ve lost people, and I’ve lost time,
But that’s not all,
I’ve lost memories, so many of them,
In a chest full of gold and other treasures,
But someone robbed me of it,
In a dream one night,
And I have never found them again.
I’ve lost dreams,
He came one night, and told me so,
That dreams were only for those,
Who had their memories safe and sound,
But I had lost them.
I’ve lost wishes, which I had saved,
To demand of a genie should I find one,
But he came in the midst of a night,
And told me he wouldn’t grant me any,
‘Cause wishes were given to only those,
Who had big dreams, and I had lost them.

But lost things may yet be found,
Like toys of a child hidden in the cupboard,
And some day when I rush across,
The pages of time,
I might catch one at the end of a page,
Waiting, sitting there, just like me,
Trying to look out for those she’s lost.