Saturday, January 8, 2011


        As I wait with bated breath at the side of a road, a few feet ahead, way above me, I can clearly discern the comforting blob of red light. But then the knowledge that most of the puffing, whirring bodies ahead of me cannot see the same is not reassuring. So I look left....right....and then again continue with my repeated glances before I put my first tentative step forward in an attempt to cross the road. And suddenly....I narrowly miss a scooter which threatens to and almost succeeds in running over my leg. When I look over to the coveted platform that temptingly lay across the ocean of vehicles in front, I catch the mocking eye of the green walking man in the black box of the traffic light, just moments before he gives way to his red, murderous looking roommate. Long before the entry of the red man, the vehicles had already started whizzing past me, making futile yet another one of my brave attempts at crossing the city roads.
        I cannot predict how many of you have gone through an account similar. But if you were in a busy city way before your licence took birth (or that of your elder sibling's), and prior to when your first weapon of murder with a shining new coat of paint and two brand new pair of wheels came to your proud possession and preceding your decision to pledge your allegiance to the 'torturers' while staying firm in your decision to betray the 'victims', there must have been rainy days when you cursed those 'lucky' people who splashed water on you as they stayed in their comfortable four cornered chamber of luxury and warmth.
        These incidents, a constant challenge to the normal citizen, can be said to be a direct reflection on the education system of the place. Immediate laws need to be enforced in order to strengthen the kindergartens around here which teaches the colour 'red' to the future drivers of India, because I am convinced that a lot of the people in the present, controlling wheels have missed this phase of their learning. A better language instruction might help those out there who are yet to understand completely the meaning of the word 'stop'. It is startling to note that the challenging communication needs required to survive in the city hasn’t helped these unfortunate victims of poor studying techniques. With the country lamenting about the deteriorating quality of science in India, probably the Physics education should shoulder the blame for playing a large part in the traffic problem because it is obvious that the drivers of today were never taught properly the concept of 'zero velocity'. The people dealing with physics were responsible to teach the then to-be drivers that 'zero speed' means that your speedometer rests on zero and not remain fluctuating above it, while your vehicle is to remain stationary behind the zebra crossing till the countdown above the red light goes to a zero. Well good education definitely cannot describe the reasons as to why the vehicles move ahead with a speed just a few units below the normal city road limits, while the countdown has just reached fifteen.
        Immaterial of whether the kindergarten, English or the Physics departments are to be blamed, I am still stuck with the daunting task of getting to the other side. While I continue to manoeuvre through my way, I leave you guys to think about this deteriorating situation. While the luckier ones among us can now reach out for the keys and take a long drive while thinking, I take the liberty to ask the rest of my friends to remain indoors or at least away from the roads while doing their part in the contemplation of the issue.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


(An almost faithful account of the narration of a true incident that amused me, written as the narrator.)

     “Oh! It’s Vishwavidyalaya. Do hurry up.”
     It was our first journey back from college and I could not sympathize with my friend’s requirement to improve her Hindi at the bus station just then. The questioning stares that we received that day were probably not unwarranted. The whole world seemed to be swimming in utter pettiness as we took our first steps into the world of trust and responsibility. We left hold of our parents hands that had directed us on every journey taken before.
     “Hey, do you have the tickets?”
     “Yes, for the tenth time, I do.”
     “The courier service which brought the tickets here didn’t come cheap. And I’m not missing the train because you forgot the tickets.”
     As we entered the railway station, time slowed down as the clock seemed to laugh at us while shouting out that we were almost an hour early. But the minor disappointment fought a bitter battle in vain against the joy of going back home.
     We were full of reassurances for our mutual friend who happened to be travelling in the opposite direction. We, the experienced travellers…the only difference this time being that our parents were not breathing fire down our necks.
     On reaching the platform, the presence of the train Agra Cant irritated us in the slightest bit. Having mutually enquired after each other’s comfort we settled down for a wait which we knew would be long based on our trust of the railway system.
     “Hey, we happen to be standing in front of the coach that we are supposed to be taking.”
     “Too bad it’s the wrong train then.”
     Laughing out loud at the joke, we shifted our focus to the people around. The best thing about a crowd is that there is never a dearth of things to notice. There will always be something that you haven’t seen before or heard before. The different voices and scenes with no apparent relation to each other rise together to form the unique symphony of a railway station. And so we stayed…
     After half an hour of wait, patience started oozing out of us and the intensity of the curses heaped on the Agra Cant kept strengthening. The train, the stay of which meant a further delay of our train, was almost toppled over by the force of our insults.
     After half an hour of curses, our prayers and wishes were answered by the heavens when the train slowly started moving away from the platform. Our spirits waltzed in joy and anticipation.
     We laughed at them who seemed to have spotted the train only when it had started moving and was trying to get into it. There were people falling over each other to get into the leaving train. When it was just a few meters away from us and we had laughed to our hearts content, I looked in the opposite direction, waiting with barely contained excitement for the Gomti express.
     “Go…Gom…Gomti…Ah! Gomti express…”
     “Oh my! Gomti express!”
     “Where did you read that?”
     Her gaze directed me towards the moving train that was just beyond our reach. Tucked away cozily behind the train was it's name that had recently become old, 'Gomti express'.We picked our bags and ran like we never knew we could and then, when the train picked up speed, came to an abrupt stop experiencing stillness like never before. We looked at each other for a while. It took us a couple of minutes to come to terms with what had just happened. We waited for a train beside it for an hour and missed it because we were on the wrong side of the door. The laughter of the people around mingled with the voice of the railway station and mockingly brought us back to reality, one in which we had a lot to deal with just then.

     Since then I have never trusted the name of a train and have relied on their numbers and will until they start changing abruptly.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


     I wonder which that day was when I went crazy, like every child born into this society has to, or rather is made to.
     Born I was to this world. I do not really recollect much from those days, the days when I cried for food when I was hungry, slept when I was sleepy and demanded for my mother when I became lonely. Contended I was when I was fed, happy I felt sleeping. My mother’s arms meant the world to me and my father, oh, how much we laughed together.
     Then came that day when I lost my senses, that day when I was pulled into this den that forms what they call ‘the world’.” Wish for more” they said. And yes I wished. I wished for discontentment, for unhappiness and my wishes like those of every other man on this planet were satisfied.
     I run like crazy behind those things that are always beyond my reach, things that are always disappearing round the corners. Dark alleys everywhere I turn and anywhere I look. They ask me to look for light, to search for a ray among the dense fog. But away from me the beam moves. Each time I see it, I sense its presence, it moves away from me at a speed which forms the limit of motion in the universe, the speed of light.
     I look around, I search around, not once realizing that all I have to do is to stop, and look near me. Never noticing that the flame that I am in constant search of was and is right in front of me. Brightness I am busy searching for among light and darkness I try in vain to remove from around a fire.
     Those days when I lay in my mothers hands, starring at the ceiling, I was happy. I think I realized that even the sorrow that pinched me hard when my mother’s face grew cloudy was part of my joy of living. In those infant days, I was capable of sensing the light around me.
     What blinds me today, I do not know. But know I do that I am blinded, that my eyes are shut as tight as could possibly be.
      I want to open my eyes. I wish everyone would open their eyes, to see that the sun shines on us, that the flowers smile at us, that those birds and bees are the ones singing, wanting us to share with them their beautiful songs. I want to feel once more the joy in just living, just having that kiss from my mother, the smile from my father, that punch from my brother, like in those days when they say you were yet to learn to make sense,  but those that I consider the most meaningful days of our lifetimes…

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Excitement running riot
For reasons varied
Flashing lights and deafening sounds
And bodies moving in apparent rhythm.

A city so considered
Bright and oozing with merriment
The place that well conceals
Darkness and eerie silence.

Footsteps hurrying along
And mock laughter ringing aloud
Men and women intoxicated
With ‘society’ brewed over ages.

Time in its lazy slumber
Trampled over by men
Who hold on till they bleed and after
To an idea that time stops for none.

Would this be joy
Or a pretension so worn
To mask the evident insignificance
Of this, a glorious life.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


      At night, rummaging through the pages before you, trying to make sense of the volumes of data laid out in front of eyes….suddenly…. the power goes out!
      A wave of exasperation and then of resignation. You know then that like you many have come to a stop, a stage of complete purposelessness.
      This becomes one of the rare occasions, or probably the only one when you sit in front of your open doorway starring outside, not because you should be, neither is it because you want to, but just because you have nothing else in mind. A period when purposelessness is the only driving force behind the minimal activity among the stillness!
      Sitting there, staring out…seeing, hearing and feeling everything but nothing.
      This, the time when you realize that the tree in front of your house is huge and that the intricate patterns made by its vastly spread branches is actually very beautiful, and yes, very interesting. When you realize that the darkness, when you are pushed into it, is after all, not so bad. That in fact, it is very elegant.
      This, the minutes when you ‘hear’ silence. Had silence been the propagation of motionless waves, a transmission of immobility, then you know about the existence of the concentration points of these silence waves, where motionlessness is the only motion, the only action.
      This, the period when you realize that the movement of paper does produce a sound, that layers of clothes rub noisily against each other, that a hand through your hair creates music, in a weird sense….
      This, the hour when your coffee, the usual dose of caffeine that keeps you awake through the night actually tastes and smells amazing. The only evening when the wind on your moist skin produces a cooling effect forcing you to appreciate the engineering of your body.
      These moments marked by complete uselessness, complete inactivity, yet filled with sights and sounds that come uniquely with them. When a tear and a smile goes without an intruding question.
      You sit there,  wondering how you could have missed all these things and more that were always around you, as you pursued things that were beyond your reach, and then…
       First the blinding light and then the whirring, followed by the return to motion of everything as though awakening from a slumber. And then you leave for your papers, vowing, unknowingly never to come back to that doorway till the next power cut.

Monday, October 11, 2010


(a work of fiction inspired by a true incident, one among many which are all too common in this 'busy' world.)

       The calls of the Mullah had ceased. She knew that everyone in the neighbourhood would be immersed in deep prayer. But she could not on that day.
       She smiled involuntarily when she thought of the smile that erupted on her daughter’s face the first time she tasted the food that she was now preparing for the umpteenth time. She knew she would receive and waited with impatience to get that smile yet another time that evening.
       Her daughter was living what to her was a dream too lofty to be even dreamt about. As she slowly lowered the meat balls dipped in batter into the simmering oil a dark cloud drifted to her face when her memories passed over that day, which now after twenty years still found her shivering and sleepless, when prayers and calls that filled the air to bring peace to the soul of her husband acted as swords that pierced her mind. Belief in god was lost on that day when she was rudely thrown onto the streets of life with a wailing child in hand with not a support and none to accompany.
      But years after when her child held aloft an admit card to a reputed college of the city and a paper promising her a handsome scholarship, she involuntarily thanked the heavens for that which she considered as the greatest blessing of her life. Since then she immersed herself in deep prayers for that bright eyed creature that she brought into this world. Her life depended on her and her days revolved around hers.
       She immediately woke up from her thoughts and looked at the watch. She hastened her movements. She had to finish cooking. It was to be her special surprise.

       The noise that seemed to move closer to her courtyard and that ultimately seemed to have stopped near it froze her. She stood rooted to the spot oblivious to the fact that the hot oil was burning her hands which were dangerously close to it.

       The onlookers looked on with horror. No one knew who was to blame or what circumstances played the villain. A speeding bus, a sight all too common in the city where no one seemed to have the precious commodity of time, threw out yet another student that week.
       The still body that showed no signs of blood kindled the hope of the girl being alive in the minds of the travellers. A few from the crowd who could think straight after witnessing an event such, rushed towards the girl. A man lifted her head to find a better position for her.He was first curious and then shocked at the moistness that was felt on the cloth of the girl’s customary religious headgear. He stifled a scream when he saw his hand, on retrieval, smeared with blood. Being a doctor, what the blood spelled was out all too clear to him. To the surprise of the crowd he suddenly slowed down in his movements and then reached out for a phone to call an ambulance without haste.


       A filled plate remained untouched that day and wails remained sans sound. Buses continued to kill people finding accomplices in the other vehicles, small or big and men continued in their rush towards the unseen, in that city which claimed lives, young and old alike, without remorse. But not the man running to his office to be on time in order to impress his boss neither the woman who was cursing her bus for passing too slow in order to make her late for her meeting nor the man who was careful to slow down at the sight of a camera which was to record all speeding vehicles and not the crowd of people who thronged the city centres and streets could answer the question of this mother, not alone, “Who am I to blame?” 

Monday, October 4, 2010


     The same black on white expressing the glories of war and the passions of love. They hold within them the power to change the future and guard the reputation of the past. Heroes and villains, princess, princesses and demons, a wicked stepmother and a magical godmother, the young girl who contains her passions hence winning the war of her desires, angry pixies and magical fairies,an inspiring teacher or a grumpy gym-master wielding a cane, the intricacies of economies that existed, exists and are to exist, the fascinating story of the birth of the universe and all in it, the accounts of prophets and men wise and great and above all the stories of letters themselves captured within those magical black coloured creatures that float on white, simply called ‘words’.
     They clothed themselves in gowns and tailcoats when the people did so and uncomplainingly got accustomed to the drastically different skirts and pants when demanded of them. But these flexible, easily dominated and ruled over entities have taken lives, destroyed cities, disrobed wailing women, mercilessly thrashed young children and have passively given accounts of the very same. They are not dubbed ruthless and similarly goes unnoticed their roles in the slightest of the smiles that played over the smallest of the human faces that have existed in the world. No one considered to give a thanking word on that wedding day, to the words that smilingly existed on the rose scented letter that brought together the couple who were wedded that day, them who proclaimed the deepest apologies of a son grieving for his inconsideration towards his father went without praise on that deathbed where the father accepted the words of apology, the words that brought the news of a mother turning grandmother rested on the parchment forgotten on the first birthday of the child. And so words have remained throughout the ages without praise or blame, simply existing as part of the human race rather than with it. They have existed as shadows of everything real and imagined.
     There were times when they looked markedly different from the forms that we so easily attribute to them today and even in this age where the world has come closer than ever before, they retain their diversity in all its various hues and colours. From an age where the word ‘hunting’ was depicted as a dead animal on the walls of stone we are now in one where we witness the formation of a jumble of symbols to mean the same on variously coloured papers that would have made them even more harder for the early men to decipher than it is for us to decode their words.
     These brilliant creations of the human mind which have caused many a men to draw their swords, which has been the reason for many a touches right or wrong, which have caused armies to move east or west, which have saved uncountable lives from storms and wars and which have,above all tried with all their might to portray clearly the minds of men great or naught hence bringing about celebrations and disputes with the same uninterested expression of a casual witness can let us live and can see without remorse our deaths.