Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Petal

The wind blew it across
Entangling it with my dress
Mingling it with my heart
Embalming my being
With its fragrance faint

I caught it between my fingers
Let it go, my mind warned
It brings trouble, you will be harmed
But the fragrance was enticing
The petal soft against the skin

I caressed it,
Pressed it against my cheek
Relishing the feeling
When no one looked
A secret joy just for me

I safely tucked it in
Into a velvet pouch
Casing it in a casket
With designs intricate
And hid it deep and safe

Letting others peep
Only when it seemed
Safe for the petal
And the foolish heart
Within the foolish me

Who cherished the petal
As something very precious
More than gold and silver
Even platinum these days
And all the diamonds in the world

With time it lay forgotten
Buried under debris
Of everyday happenings
Thrown on it carelessly
Drying and crushing it

But sometimes it protests
Lets out a whiff
Rustles under the weight
Catching my attention
Reminding me of its presence

Should I peep inside?
Or let it rest in peace
Giving it a decent burial
As it maybe needs?
As should past be

Or take it out
Stroke it
Stoke the fire
Bring it back to life
And burn everything around?

Oh beautiful petal
It was nice when you lasted
But your time is over
And you are best forgotten
Buried deep inside

For newer things grow
As time flows
And every fresh day
Brings a new flower
From where blows a petal.

Lock for the Mouth

There was a choice. When the I heard another I enthusiastically, innocently assume its presence made a world of difference, to break that moment with truth.

The I raised its head, protesting that another I could presume so much. Compassion asked it to be quiet - the joy in the other's eyes was more important than breaking the I.

But the I bristled. It is falsehood, it said self-righteously.

So? asked Compassion. It's a harmless delusion.

Then I sulked. It upsets the balance, the I said. It was like a personal challenge that the I had to take up.

When the moment of decision came, the I blurted out, unmindful of all counter arguments, unmindful of the fading light in the other's eyes. But the dimming lights made it pause. It was a pyrhhic victory, at best, it realised too late.

Compassion stepped in, but it was too late. If only there had been a lock ready for the mouth.

Friday, June 10, 2011

God's Gift: A Short Story

"There is no one like you," the mother preened seeing her daughter dance. "What talent you have! You must nurture it," she said quietly, as if sharing a secret with the child.

The child's eyes grew wide in wonder. She put in more effort, if only to please her mother.

She grew up and at every stage, she was clear that dance was god's gift to her and she would make a career of it.

Being recognised by the public added to her sense of pride. The adulation she saw among her family and friends went to her head. She developed airs. Her chin - was that always an inch up in the air? Her eyes, looking down on others for not being her? Her eyebrows, raised just a bit to wonder what the other person was doing in her vicinity?

She stored the reviews about her programs, displayed her awards and the blow ups of her in various poses covered her walls. She smiled to think how unique she was. Her cousins, her siblings - they worked for a living. She pursued her passion.

She liked that! She used that line as often as she could when she talked to the press.

There was no one like her, though there were many dancers in town. Her family ran around her needs. Everything was scheduled as per her requirements. Her very wish was their command.

When a distant aunt was to come, she frowned. Her mother pleaded, "Just for a week."

She tossed her head, her only indication that she would allow it provided it was just for a week.

She woke up early as usual and after a few stretches, switched on music and let the rhytm sink in as she struck a pose. The opening of the door and the old lady entering the room irritated her. She was about to stop the music when her innate desire to stun made her go on.

Her performance shone better than it did on stage. She finished and turned to the old lady. "Did you enjoy it?" she asked, a superior smile touching her lips.

The old lady sighed. "Your grandmother had a sister. You remind me just of her."

She frowned. "Why? Do I look like her?"

The lady shook her head. "Your sister looks like her, but you dance just like her. If only her father had let her pursue dance."

She felt a slight shock. "You are lucky, your mother has let you learn dance and perform on stage. Poor thing, she would have died willingly for dance, but it was not done in our families."

Some of her sense of being unique took a beating as she waited for the lady to go on. "There was no question of learning dance, but when we cousins met, we would display our talents behind closed doors. Your grandmother could sing, and singing was encouraged. But her sister would dance as she pleased. She would have us mesmerised."

She pursed her lips and stood up. What did it count, she thought to herself. The grandaunt may have been a dancer, but it was her that the world would remember.

She didn't let the old lady continue but abruptly left the room. The lady sat back, regretfully remembering her cousin who may have been a more famous dancer if circumstances had been different. "Wonder who she got the genes from."

Also read: The Super "EYE"; Bringing Up

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Common Man

RK Laxman's Common Man was a mute spectator. But the common man in A Wednesday is not.

Vikas Swaroop's The Six Suspects is a wonderful take on the modern Indian society. Though some of the characters are cliched, they don't jar and the conclusion is not obvious.

A journalist investigates a murder of a politician's son for murdering a model cum bartendress, much like the Jessica Lall case. Only, in this book, he goes scot free and is subsequently murdered.

The suspects are varied - a film actress to an American nobody, from a tribal to an IAS officer, a mobile thief and the politician father of the victim.

It is pacy and takes you into the lives of each of these, bringing up the circumstances that lead to the death of the man, who is anyway the scum of the earth.

It is insightful into the corruption of our society - not only of politicians. It shows how empty we have become, destroying nature, not in touch with ourselves, pursuing money and other desires, grabbing, grabbing, grabbing.

The end is stunning and unexpected, but it is the author's thoughts reflected in the journalist's characterisation that had me hooked. A must read.

Also read: In High Places; Looking for Happiness; The Animal Farm

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Habit?

If you behave, you will get a chocolate.

You can play video games if you complete your homework.

You will get a cycle if you do well in exams.

Offer this money in the temple and pray that you succeed in this competition.

I have promised god that you will tonsure your head if you get through in engineering.

I paid the traffic policeman a 100 to avoid going to the station for jumping the signal.

Pay that tout, we will get the passport faster.

Buy in black, I have to watch this movie today.

Pay the shopkeeper extra so that he will deliver the gas cylinder early for you...

From childhood to adulthood, this is all we see and do.

Have we done anything purely on merit? Can we blame only a class of people for corruption.

When a hospital/doctor knows you can claim medical bills, they hike up their charges. A doctor says that this is the most corrupt field - with liasioning between doctors and medical shops, diagnostic centres, etc.

A man I met yesterday says corruption is highest in temples. For every stage of temple construction and maintenance there is money filling up pockets.

Judges...we have scams as headlines.

Teachers - tuitions, the best way to win their favour.

Journalists - the gift at the press conference had better be good!

Where do we begin to clean?

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Lotus

A water drop fell on its petals. The petal sagged a bit, enjoying the feel of the cool drop on its skin. It let the drop roll down the length of its petal before falling into the water below and merging with it.

It looked up again to see if another drop would make its way. A slight disappointment that the water had run off bothered it awhile till the sun came up and burned the earth below. The lotus looked up and smiled, basking in its warmth, blooming happily, swaying in the gentle breeze.

The sun came down, and the petals closed, drooping sadly at the end to a good day.

The dew drops will fall again, the sun will rise again, the lotus thought before the last of its petals closed.
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