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

Its an occasion of colour, lights and celebration that will adorn every inch of this holy land. The same land that is tormented by bursts of gunfire at its borders and of bombs in its heartland, will celebrate unity and diversity under the same bursts now. For a few hours, the sound of crackers will drown every dissident noise that threatens the harmony and stability of this county.

Happy Diwali to everyone that made an impact in my life - my readers, friends, family, folks, and well-wishers one and all.

Its a festival of lights, so whatever worries you have, just cast them aside and take it 'light'!

Various people have made varied impacts on my life; One kind had a beneficial impact that was apparent right away, while another kind had impacts that, I am sure, will turn out to be beneficial in the long run. I shall always remember the first kind, but the second kind - I will find tough to forget!

Image credit : lightdoodles.com
I still drive a bike, though most my friends have graduated onto 'Light Motor Vehicles' of various classes. I like the bike for its youthful ride, though I am far from being called a youth or a biker, and all the more for its advantage to zip through Bangalore's slow moving traffic.  Nevertheless, the world (that I know of) seems endlessly crazy over cars.. for the status it brings? for  the comfort it gifts? just for the temptation of it? for catching up with peers? or for the stupid reason that it (like gold) is available at attractive offers?

So much so, that not having a car raises question marks on being a responsible householder! Now, this desire for a car seems to highlight one of the strange ironies in human behavioral process (Much like the hugely popular irony that families are the building blocks of our society - more on that in another post, another blog)

Nearly everyday my bike rides are disrupted by cars gloriously driving on the road as if its their private property. Either its a car parked wide of the pavement or in a place its not meant to be, or one that takes a sharp turn without indication, or one that slows down in the fast lane, or almost always one that does not start even long after the traffic light turns green. Honking or shouting has no effect on the drivers as they seem to be callous to it all, and nothing stops them from repeating the act at the very next turn or crossing. In most cases, the "inmates" of such erring cars are folks on the cell phone or just enjoying loud music or ice-cool A/C's behind tinted glasses. Sometimes its also families or friends sharing a joke or discussing matters while forgetting that others on the road need to get a move on.

I see my nephew riding his toy car inside the home and he zips around hitting everything in his way, unmindful of any rules or discipline. Then I wonder what seperates him from the 'mature drivers' on the roads? Cars look like little boxes and once in it, a person stops thinking 'out of the box', and in this boxed state of mind the world is just like moving images projected on their windows. There is no difference between watching a movie in a theater and seeing the world through a pulled up car-window, or maybe like enjoying a moving circus outside.

Cars, whose sizes reflect the egos of their masters. Cars, whose interiors of black shiny upholsters are as grand as the black smoke emitting out of them. Cars, which are as "hot" as the fumes they boil the environment with. Cars, that put people on wheels and take away the power of their heels.

I have myself traveled by cars occasionally and distinctly remember the instinct to pull up the windows at the slightest hint of noise or gush of hot air from outside. The world "in which" we live, suddenly become "out there" and a sense of aloofness descends into the mind. I haven't experienced such deceptive attitude in any other mode of transport - not even in flights. Its like the world has suddenly shrunk into a small cubicle of leather covered seats and pulsating music, and so does it enforce a narrowness of thought and vision too.

Every car brings with it a baggage of attitudinal changes and, for whatever reason one has bought the car, one also needs to have the spirit to detach from the possessiveness of that reason and use it in a way that upholds mutual respect for all fellow drivers and fellow citizens on the road.

Drive your car, but dont drive the others crazy and very certainly... dont let your car drive you!
"There is many a bliss in knowledge, but there is a strange happiness in ignorance too.. " - Anonymous

Rajamma lived in the forest, with her son. She was frail and weak as any octagenarian of her village, yet she diligently went about her chores with same vigour every single day. Twice a week, she would even go around her shanty and do some repairs - slap an extra layer of dung on the cracks in the wall or throw a coconut frond or two on the leaking roof. It was ironical this old lady had to toil so much when there was a full grown son at home, and sometimes it did worry Rajamma too, but she could never understand his laziness and silence and believed things would be fine some day.

It was when her husband died in mysterious circumstances that she and her son had been banished from the village. Their small patch of land was taken; they were accused of practising witch-craft and left to die in the forest. A defiant Rajamma had withstood the tragedy and setup a life in the forest itself. She didn't want to give up for the sake of her son.

Rajamma sold firewood for a living. She would collect fallen twigs and branches, walk half a mile to the next village and sell it for a small sum, that provided for her and her son. She would try to be miserly and secretly save money whenever she could. In the evenings, she would first stow away the saved money and then cook for dinner. At supper, she would try to talk to her son and finally sleep away tired from a one-sided conversation. This was her routine - a lady in the final years of her life, fighting to stay independent, struggling with hope to see better days, praying frantically that God give some sense to her son and lighten her burden before showing the light for her final journey.

One night Rajamma had a dream - she saw that her son had stolen her sack of saved money and eloped to the city. The next morning she woke up feeling fresh and innately happy. If the dream were to come true, it would release all her burdens at once. The money she was saving for her son would finally help him live a life of his choice. She left for the forest with prayer on her lips and a spring in her step..

At around noon, her son was woken-up by a creaking noise. As he sat up, he was horrified to see a young man running away with his mother's sack. He jumped out of his bed and apprehended this apparent thief. They ran through the forest and above the hill. As they were rushing through the bushes, an old woman spotten them and froze in her step. Rajamma had just witnessed her son running away. Did her dream just come true? She ran towards her home to check on her sack..

Meanwhile, the son, who was not accustomed to running, tripped on a root and fell headlong into a mound of rocks. His skull broke open and he died almost immediately. Some villagers passing by found his body and were shocked to see the son dead, in exactly the same fashion as his father had died. They immediately believed Rajamma's witch-craft had taken toll of her son too and would soon consume the whole village if she was let go. They decided to burn her alive and walked with burning torches towards her house in the forest..

Rajamma reached her house and uttered a shriek of joy when she found her sack missing. She believed God had just worked a miracle for her. She felt unbounded happiness in her heart. She fell to the ground and wept with joy. She had had enough of this tiresome life, she did not long to live anymore and cried God to end her life right at that happy moment. No sooner had she wished, she realized her house was on fire..
It was the last ball and he was on strike. It was his chance to hit the winning shot. He was not trained for this but he had dreamt of it so many times that he knew exactly what to do.

It was a climax that his buddies would kill for, and he, of all, had got the chance. His seniors would be so jealous of him. They always spoke of this very moment and the greatness that lay beyond it. He stood on the threshold of that greatness and was just one strike away from it. He pinched himself to assure it was not a dream. Yes! he was there - really there - bang in the middle of it all. He looked all around and saw the crowd peering at him - their faces blank in tension. Only he could fill the color of joy in them!

In one silent fleeting moment, his memories flashed-back. How, as a teenager, he loved playing cricket in the streets of the valley. Abdul was his buddy and best batting partner. They had together won so many tournaments that everyone in the town knew they will be big players someday. Then one day, a training camp was setup in their town. Within days, none of his mates came to play on the streets. He heard they were all training in the camp now. Abdul had met him one evening and asked that they should go too - he had heard they taught very well at the camp and they said it was the best way to attain their glory. He had agreed and life had moved so fast since then..

Now! it was time to stop dreaming and claim his moment of fame. He saw the bowler come hurtling towards him; he took guard. The ball was a full-toss directed to his chest. Oh! he couldn't have asked for anything better. He had hit a very similar ball for a six in a school match 4 years back. He bent his knees, leaned back a little, took one last breath and heaved all his energy into one flourishing swing and... Boom!

There was stunned silence for a moment; when the dust settled, everyone jumped out of their places and cheered. The last of the terrorists was dead; the seize of the mosque had ended. 

The army commander baffled, "What the hell! Did we throw him a grenade or what?", while the other men wondered, "Do they watch so much of IPL in terrorist camps too?"