"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan

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It was during a trek to the Western Ghats, I had felt, "There are more shades of green here than my Adobe Photoshop can ever create". At that moment, amidst the light green rays of sun peeking through fresh wet leaflets, I had realized how soothing Green was to the eyes. No wonder, God created the heavenly Rainbow and put Green bang in the middle of it!

A few days after I returned from the trek, I woke up to the cacophony of our building watchman (Bahadur) shouting at his kid. Apparently, the kid (Lali) refused to go to school until she was given bling red earrings and green barbie ribbons, like her other friends wore to school. Bahadur was obviously nonchalant towards Lali's kiddish desires and seemingly unaware of the tact of cajoling kids. The sobbing kid finally gave in and was haplessly driven to school.

Later that day, while cleaning my room, I found an old pot under my bed and it immediately brought back memories of, what I called, my 'first child'. It was a tomato plant - part of a school assignment - and though the plant survived only a week, it had left behind an unforgettable impression. I still remembered that moment when I first saw the tiny red cherry tomato on my own plant and holding it in my hand, I had probably felt like a father holding his new born baby!

Precisely then, it struck me that I knew a way to gift Lali her green ribbons and red earrings.

I filled some fresh soil into the pot, gift wrapped it and stole a small ripe tomato from our kitchen to go with it. Then I went down looking for the kid. Lali, as usual, was with her books and fidgeting aimlessly with her markers. I summoned her and she came running with a curious excitement. Her childish genius had already spotted the gift wrap in my hands. I told her it was a magic pot and it would give her the reds and greens she wanted. She had to tell the magic mantra 'Abracadabra' and put the tomato in the pot. Then she had to spray water every morning on it by repeating the same magic words. Lali instantly bought the idea, grabbed the pot from my hands, dropped the tomato in it and spoke the magic words "Abba-ka-Dabba". I knew she had done her best. For the next few days, I didn't hear any crying of the kid or shouting of the watchman.

Exactly two weeks later, as I was rushing to leave for my mundane office, I nearly tripped on Lali, who was standing right outside my room with the pot in her hand. As soon as I looked at her, she beamed the pot at me, in the same style that Kapil Dev held up the World Cup for all to see. There in the pot dangled a tiny ripe tomato, the result of dedicated innings that Lali had played.

Lali's plant was perfect. Its bright green leaves twisted into ribbon like shapes and the lone tomato swung like a shiny bead of earring. I wanted to explain the analogy to the kid but didn't look like she cared about the earrings and ribbons anymore. Lali was now in a new world. She had ripened, matured. No! her innocence was not lost - rather it had traveled from the world of man to the Garden of God. She wanted me to hold it gently, like it was her tiny sibling. She even named it 'Toto'. She blushed when I appreciated her and with those red cheeks, in a way, she resembled her sibling, Toto! 

Lali had 'Gone Green'. Toto looked fresher than my tomato did 10 years back, maybe it was a mark of her pure innocence. I returned Toto back to her and asked her to teach this trick to all kids in her class. While she danced away to introduce her new-born sibling to her other friends, I wondered if God could keep Toto always as red and fresh as it could possibly be..

Image credit : 123rf.com

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Kinky thoughts from a bonky mind driven wonky watching a hanky-panky world and its monkey businesses..

First it was Jack, then it was Jill,
and then the pail on a hill so brown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

The Stock Exchange, Our Cricket Team,
Rakhi Sawant's top, Miss Sherawat's gown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

American Dreams, Chinese gizmos,
European Money, Arabian Crown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

Apollo's mission, Beagle's sail,
Columbia's crash, Titanic's drown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

Election slogans, Party parades,
Hazare's smile, Ramdev's frown,
Up and down, up and down,
They just keep going up and down.

State the strings, people the puppet,
governance the circus, public the clown,
down and down, down and down,
They keep looking up, but keep going down...
Yesterday night, I slept in a quasi-miserable state. A cramping rumbling in my tummy, a sprain in my left shoulder, numbed heels, slight headache, light fever and a kind of strange shivering inside my body. Even on days with a some activity, I get pretty famished by end of the day. I didn't know when I dozed off to sleep but the last thing I remember was worrying about how to start the next day in such a bad state. Come the next morning, and I get up like a newly blossomed flower, the ill-being of previous night feels like a passing dream. There are no traces of tiredness and I am bursting at my seams yet again... I am sure all of us have been through this experience, personally!

What miracle happened at night to resurrect me like this? They say the Night is a dangerous place, its darkness is the haunt of evil spirits. By nature humans are afraid of the dark; we can see it programmed in new born babies too. All synonyms of the word 'Dark' are negative in connotation; its even equated to death sometimes. How could I, then, pass by this grievous passage and come out fresh and sparkling? In the morning, Why do I feel so light and mentally cleaned-up?

Was the 'Dark of the Night' like 'The Ark of a Knight' that ferried me across an ocean of soulful refreshment? Do I really have to be afraid of it at all?

Christianity, which borrowed tid-bits of its mysticism from the religions of the East, has a beautiful concept of darkness - "Faith and Intellect complement each other but they are also independant of each other. God can be reached only by pure Faith. Intellect can help in that journey only to a certain extent. There comes a point where the Human Soul, listening to the call of the Divine, draws away from its intellect, on the basis of pure Faith, without, however, being able to see God. At this point the Soul enters into a Darkness called as 'The Cloud of Unknowing'. This state is the birth of mysticism cultimating in ecstatic love. This Darknes, which envelops the divine, is due to the utter transcendence of the divine essence" (St.Gregory of Nyssa - a Greco-Christian priest from 4th cent. B.C.)
He stood confused, face buried in sweaty hands, overcome with grief, anger and a vague relief. His heart felt heavy and light at the same time. A bead of sweat trickled down his lips. It was salty yet in it was the sweetness of washing down a mental burden. He was not crying, yet he choked on a great guilt for he had exactly wished for this to happen.

Though it was 8 hours back, he vividly remembered every detail of it - the noise in the station, his wife seated in the coach, her dry sullen face which avoided him, his tongue tied stance, the way his heart sank when the train started and the way she drifted away without a good-bye or even a fake smile. It was exactly at that helpless moment his heart had wished the unthinkable - "Is there a way to end this all?"

The train had derailed in the wee hours and he woke up to the breaking news. Her coach had been smashed. They put up a list of the deceased and her name was there. He had not spoken to her parents yet, but he felt he was prepared - it was only weeping and condolences to handle now. It would have been harder to speak to them had she reached them alive..

It was a marriage that God had served on the rocks - it had gotten worse with each passing season. He loved her but always struggled to translate it into reality. Was it inability or was it defiance? Almost all the time she had either cribbed, abused, wailed or just kept an impenetrable silence. There was never a proper conversation or even a fight between them - because you need two people for it; not with one standing mum, his head down and stammering on his words. She initially suspected him of being Autistic but finally settled on Maniacal Depression syndrome. Since marriage, they had always lived in cities far from their people. As a result, they met very little with his or her relatives and she would always be on the phone proclaiming the failure of her marriage to her friends, cousins, et al. Many a times, he had overheard her phone conversations and had secretly dreaded the thought of meeting her friends and relatives - he knew they would grill him to death. Whenever she spoke to him of getting a transfer, he was quick to reply "I am trying dear. They don't transfer in the middle of a project.."

Finally his bluff was called at an office party, the evening before her train journey. His boss had casually said to her, "Whats up with him? We offered him a transfer several times but he denies it giving personal reasons. In fact, we have better projects in the other office while he has been on bench here for past 6 months". She had instantly realized he had been 'swindling her' all this while. She had stormed home that night and packed her bags. She threatened to 'expose his criminal mind' to everyone and didn't listen to any of his explanations. At the station too, he had kept praying she would finally change her mind and come back home with him.

"Is there a way to end this all?", those words hauntingly came back to him now. He realized his trauma had ended but also gone was the person with whom he had spent his past 4 years. She was the only company known to him - even in between her rebukes he had found traces of love. He had heard somewhere that when the heart desires something very hard, God makes it happen. It was only one burning moment that he had wished for it, Why did God have to listen to him precisely at that instant? He felt he was a murderer. He could not speak to anyone now, as he felt they may sense it too. Then he felt maybe it was all a bad-dream, he wanted to sleep and get up again. He went into the bath and gulped down the entire bottle of sleeping pills..

2 days later

The whole family was there. His and her parents. All the elders were in utter shock; they couldn't believe the funeral of both their children would happen in front of their own eyes. Someone was heard saying, "Her fate could not be avoided, but wish someone was there to console him and stop him from taking such an extreme step. He should have atleast spoken to the parents once. I can't believe there are guys today who love their wives so very much.."
Dear Grandpa,

When I was born, they say you were too old and weak to see or hear me and I was too young to recognize you. Our lives overlapped just a few months and by the time I grew up to start remembering things, you were already a sweet memory for everyone. Now, when I reach the threshold of 30 long years in my life, I wonder how the same milestone would have been for these three generations of our family.

They say you participated in non-violent protests against the British. When you were 30, you stood high on the wave of patriotism that so dignifiedly swept us all into an independent India. You celebrated your birthday with jubiliation all over the country. It was a freedom you earned for us, but something dad says seemed like a bad-dream to him - Sadly he could not celebrate his 30th birthday due to the severe imposition of National Emergency clamp down all over the country. Today, on my 30th year, another Gandhian is sweeping the country with similar protests and ideology - but I didn't want to miss my birthday party. I celebrated it with few buddies at the club. Sadly others were either stuck at work or in traffic jams and some had other parties to attend - they all wished me on Facebook though! The protests irritated me a bit there..

Grandpa - You guys really missed out on the social network thing, people from all over the world (like my friends from Pakistan and UK) could have sent Independence wishes to you. Also, there is nothing called Facebook Emergency!

They say when you were 30, your eldest son (my uncle) had started going to work with you. So effectively, the family burden was partly off your shoulders, but when my dad was 30, I had just entered high-school. There was still a long journey ahead for him and his 'family burdens' had just started to weigh down upon him. Today, when I am 30, I am still grappling with how much I should study further. I have not even started independent steps of my own and family is not a word in my dictionary at all. 

Grandpa - The things that you had achieved and done with, are the same things that I have not even started thinking about, at the same age of 30.

In your days, the world was still an enigma, options were less and life was simpler. Today, we opened up the world, added more color to our lives. For you, the world was large and happiness came in small things. For us, the world is small and happiness is still at large..

They say you walked by the sea-shore in the evenings. I am sure you would have looked at the sunset and ruminated on your life. Introspection is like digging at the sand - you remove layers trying to find something underneath. You were a man of limited means, so you stopped digging when it was a small pit. You plainly threw in a few seeds and covered the pit, which has spawned three healthy generations now.
I look at the sunset, and I introspect too. But my digging does not stop at just a pit. Its a frantic search.. for my identity, for my purpose, to realize my self and to define my place in this world. I continued digging and today I stand in a pit thats as big as me. So big that I can bury myself in it!

Grandpa - I wish I had a chance to spend more time with you...