Saturday, April 25, 2015

One Earth: No Tree Frogs, Please!

One Earth: No Tree Frogs, Please!: Nature, lovely nature. When I saw the three basic but intelligently made bamboo huts in Karadimalai Camp in Chengelpet, I was excited. We...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mother Racketwali

She sat quietly, immobile, waiting for the attack. She offered her body for the sacrifice. But she was not going down without a fight. She was armed.

Right enough, the promise of food, the scent of blood, the sitting duck lured them from their corners. In ones, twos, almost invisible in the shadows, they emerged and reconnoitered.

She waited. She felt their pincer grip but sat still. She wanted the army out, not these minions. She towered over them, and so the damage was not significant. But it was not their bite which was dangerous. It was what they injected into her system. Even one minion could poison her system, but she was willing to take the risk.

Nothing happened for a long time. Only the minions got drunk on her blood. She was getting angry now. It was not an easy call, this decision to kill. Largely peaceful as a person, she felt that she was justified in killing because she was being attacked. It was pure self-defense.

She saw the fat ones moving up closer. She swished her weapon - the electric racket - and heard the satisfying burst of the body against the electric wires. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She felt another one bite. Swish, swish, swish she went. Crackle, crackle, crackle she heard the response. She smelt burning bodies.

She had promised herself, she would kill only those who came to her. And that the stream had to end. But like Raktabeeja, each death caused at least two more to emerge and strengthen the attack. The frenzy to kill consumed her. She bent low and looked far. She caught the tiny bodies in mid air and swung her arm with relish.

But it was unending. 11. 11.30. 12.00. She must go to bed now. She will resume the battle the next day.

The survivors hovered, having won another day.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

One Earth: What's Your Excuse?

One Earth: What's Your Excuse?: On a busy thoroughfare near Mount Road, Chennai, on a narrow stretch between the footpath and the flyover, stands this dustbin occupying ...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Modern Goat

It was a narrow road. Shops on one side, houses on the other, and just enough space for two cars to cross each other from opposite sides.

An auto was parked next to the shop, by the side.

There came a car, a sedan, driven by a chauffer, with a lady inside.

He parked outside the shop, next to the auto, on the road. He went in, leaving the car with the lady inside.

He bought a few things, but forgot a few others. He came out and asked the lady what else she needed. She told him her grocery list. He went back in to do her bidding. So what if the road was narrow and one side of the road completely blocked?

"There is an auto parked by the shop, that's why my driver had to park on the road," she reasoned.

"Oho, poor thing! Do you realise you can park ahead, on a side?" asked one bystander.

"Mind your business," said the lady.

The driver, coming out, his hands full of things, glared. "There is enough road on the side for your bike to pass," he pointed out.

And the charioteer drove his queen away, unmindful of the disturbance he caused. This reminded me of the Panchatantra tale of two goats crossing a bridge and dying because they wouldn't give the other way.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

With No Cares

The Fort by the sea in Tranquebar (Tharangampadi) has a museum on the first floor. After a quick glance through the exhibits, I stepped out and sat on a bench facing the Bay.

The tsunami of 2004 had claimed a part of the beach. I could see the ramparts of the fort peeping over the water every time a wave receded.

There was a wall closer to the fort building and the waves hit the wall, jumped up vertically, spraying water droplets on the beach.

My eyes fell on two very young children standing safely on the beach side behind the wall, in just their underwear, urging the waves to rise higher and higher. The waves too gamely obliged. Sometimes, the waves felt tired and were more muted, just jumping enough to peep at the children. The boy, who stood in the front, would then wave his hands as if swinging a sword, and challenging the waves to get at him. Fresh and rejuvenated waves would respond with mirth and joy, making the children scream excitedly.

I watched them for a long time wistfully. This is childhood. No cares, no responsibilities, just their imagination and a friendly 'nature'.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Life - An Illusion

My heart, my belief system is rooted deeply in the firm conviction that the divine and I are separate. He, (She, if you insist - it is just a word at that level) is all pervading, and so in me, in you, everywhere. A part of it rests within me, but the larger part rests outside, like in a bank account - to be accessed when the Self is incapable of dealing meeting a situation.

The separateness is reassuring, as if there is someone watching over, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to pour the troubles into, an arm that envelopes protectively, a dark, reassuring night that soothes and cools, a bright light that guides... As if it is all not my responsibility.

So probably, 'Yoga Vasishta' was not the book for me.

Or, just the book for me. A treatise on Advaita philosophy, it is Sage Vasishta's discourse on the non-duality of the Paramatma and Jeevatma, of how it is the Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness that is manifest in every living and non-living thing not just in the universe but the various universes that exist in multifarious forms in parallel. The discourse is given to Rama when Sage Vishwamitra calls on King Dasaratha asking for Rama's help in killing Tataka.

Rama has been distressed and restless and feels a strange detachment that he is not able to explain. The discourse aims to enlighten Rama on the nature of non-duality of the world and the need to perform our duties with detachment and realisation of the true nature of the self.

Whether you are an atheist, agnost, or theist matters not; whether you go to temples or to war matters not; whether you act or not matters not. The gods are not gods, but like us, creation of that Supreme Imagination. Life, and even non-life, is but a dream. What matters is to know this Truth and to contemplate on it, be aware of it, and repose in that Supreme Consciousness.

While I read novels at least one a week, this book needed time - I took two years to complete it. It is the same idea repeated with many stories, instances and examples. Creation and dissolution of the cosmos are also mere beginning and end of a dream. There is no you, no me, nothing. We dream and think that is true and the waking world becomes a lie. When we wake up, the dream world dissolves and becomes a lie. So it is with the world.

Am I nothing? Just a puff who will vanish, has vanished and materialised again? Are you whom I love, hate, like, dislike, am indifferent to, don't even know you exist - really? Just the effect of a dream?

The mind is still struggling to understand how all that I see and experience are but a dream of some supreme being that is and is not; that life is an illusion, a mirage that vanishes the moment the dream ends. It all seemed so clear when I was reading it, but so hard to comprehend when I close it!

I love that God who stands by me. But if that God and I are a but dream...?

Yet another illusion or self-realisation?

Am I awake or asleep?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Us Vs. Them

I was probably 11 or 12. My friend and I were in a park in our neighbourhood in Delhi. I can't remember how suddenly we started talking about it, but I felt the south Indians were to be pitied more for the troubles they were facing in Sri Lanka, while she felt that it is the north Indians suffering at the hands of the Sikh terrorists that needed all the sympathy.

I am sure we did not understand the issues involved or the politics. But, we felt the need to support the underdog, to show solidarity with the sufferers, but most importantly, identify ourselves with the victims.

Today, I am sometimes worried, sometimes shocked when I see that even as adults, we seem to feel the need to take sides, constantly. That we maybe unfair to the other side be damned. That our own stance may shift with the winds is conveniently forgotten. That there are no absolute truths be overridden with one sweeping statement.

If perpetrators of so-called social crimes are evil, can taking the opposing stance be good? Isn't it only reversal of roles? Do two negatives become a positive, or are we simply tilting the balance?

If that is the way of the world, why should the past be judged? And if it is not right, why perpetuate it in a different form today?

Ironically, it also seems to be a time where everything Indian is either rubbished or elevated on a pedestal. "Oh I wish we were more like them," seems to be the tune of some, while the others seem to think "All that they know is because of us."

Education, access to technology, exposure to global thought do nothing to expand our views, open our minds. We will remain small and mean so long as it serves our purpose. So long as we can somehow show our superiority - either in aligning ourselves with the victims, or by negating our roots.

Forever, we will be forming teams to fight battles - either directly by throwing bombs or indirectly through the power of the pen.

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