How do you use your social media? Do you regret using it too much? Do you feel like you aren’t using it enough? I am not sure if these are thoughts everyone would relate to. People don’t deeply think about their social media usage patterns. Duh, that’s such a pointless exercise! But then, there could be a select few like me who just can’t stop overthinking. Lately, I’ve been analysing how I use this medium. Well, I’m not particularly bothered by the extent of usage because I’m on very select platforms only. What got me thinking was the abundance of content around me. I’m fairly active on Twitter, but there is no mention about any political affiliation, any social issue or any other ‘trending’ discussions in my profile. It is a quite space for myself, where I share my musings, my tiny random thoughts and follow things that are of importance to me. Not ‘tweeting’ about something doesn’t mean I’m in support of it, or I’m against it, or worst yet, that I’m ignorant about it. By ‘I’, I mean a tiny set of people who don’t comment about every single thing around us, but still live a full social life. There’s this one particular Twitter handle I’ve been following for some years. It was a contact through a Tech conference and I see regular updates from that person on tech alone. And once in a while about personal life, but never about the ‘alarming’ social issues. That has been my happiest part of the Twitter feed ever since. It feels good to have fresh thoughts to relish, breaking the monotony. I am not very vocal about my political opinions generally. It is not because I don’t have a stand, but because enough and more being discussed already. The deluge of opinions and comments about everything under the Sun (of course, above it too) – it is causing a rampage in the cyber space. Each one of us have our rights to express, I agree. But do we have to execute it as a duty shoved onto us? Too many are speaking, yet too less is heard. Listening is so underrated after all.
I am not a feminist, never was, never will be. Because, I don’t believe in discrimination on any basis – gender, age, race, economic status, language, knowledge, power – positively or negatively. Feminism to me is just discrimination on gender to ‘benefit’ out of it. If there’s any ‘-ism’ ever, it must be individualism and I hold that philosophy very closely. But lately, I feel suppressed – emotionally and intellectually. I am a working professional, socially active and emotionally open to new arenas of a social life. And I feel overwhelmed by what I experience each day – at work, on the road, in a discussion forum, a public place and the nuances of simple conversations! I wouldn’t call it out as misogynistic since it’s not always purely on gender, but it greatly does seem so. The biases have been based on age, power and even knowledge. It’s frustrating when you are cornered for being in a ‘discriminated class’. The co-worker who pulls the strings of ‘power’, the reckless driver who questions your ‘female’ driving, the male friend who ‘stares’, the relative who dismisses your ‘inexperienced’ knowledge – no I am not pulling a #metoo moment here. I am asking if this is a #youtoo moment. Have you dismissed a younger person’s wisdom because they aren’t ‘old enough’? Have you played the ‘victim card’ for your own recklessness on the road? Have you made someone uncomfortable by ‘ogling’ at them? Have you been rude to a subordinate because of your ‘entitlement’? Please say no. Please don’t be that person. You are scarring an individual by all those unfortunate moments of truth. Age, gender, power – they don’t make up a person. They are merely some states of a person. Don’t limit an individual’s experience with your inadequacy. Grow. And let grow.
So why does all these matter suddenly? Perhaps because of my fortunate half of life where I have been blessed with unbiased individuals. People who don’t judge you. People who see you for who you are without their baggy lenses. I have had humble bosses who respected their colleagues, dignified men who look up to women for their worth and a great deal of amazing people who make life worth exploring. It’s because of them that I sit down and contemplate on the rest of the world. Why not make a difference with a simple gesture, if it has the potential to make one more person relevant in this system. Why not!
Vestiges of a messed up cake! This might not be anything more to anyone else, but me. To me, this the ultimate embodiment of love and care that could never be contested or questioned! I am elated by this. This mass of fluffly spongy sweetness means so much to me, for it was given to me, specially chosen for me, with utmost care and immense love. Don’t you dare question the ‘taste’ and the ‘quality’, for those are beyond any judgment! This was for me from my dear mama and mami! The delicacy of the cake and the worth of the ‘aashirvadam’ from my chachummai and thatha totally made my day, pushing my mood atop a sharp incline, from a very deep fall.
And now that’s my petite little pendant of ‘Poornathrayeesan’ from mom and dad and Vidya. It made me so happy she remembered, that she even ‘made’ me an earring all by herself. I felt all the more loved! It totally was a birthday to me!
Is it so ridiculous of me that I find happiness in all these and go upto putting up an image and such pompous words about it? I am not sure how this might look like. As though I am the only one with birthdays or gifts! Besides the silliness, (and my mom’s complaints that I don’t know what to write about and what not to!), I find immense happiness and satisfaction in such infinitesimally small expressions of life and its being. I am very glad a friend so close, remembered my star and wished me! Aren’t friends just expected to know your date of birth from Facebook calendar’s afterall! I am so much more elated by that end of the day birthday wish. Isn’t that quite something to know that you were in somebody’s last thoughts of a day! So much more to be happy, when people could even spare that one moment to wish you, despite the strict uncompromised schedules! And naturally, I feel so blessed when I get a blissful poem as an apology for a forgotten wish!
What more can a person ask for? What made my day, or what makes my life, are fundamentally and ultimately in my little brain and how it interprets things! When I look at this post as my token of gratitude towards this existence, then so be it. And if I look at this as one of my many countless blabberings about insignificant details of life, then so be it!
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The irrelevant void
Voids. Those tiny little empty spaces between life and its monotony. There are way too many voids in each person’s life. Some get filled. Some may not. And some others, may even go unnoticed as they get filled without our knowledge or appreciation. I have been thinking of such ‘irrelevant’ voids in my life, say, for past two weeks. Now, two weeks is fairly a fair amount of time to spare on ‘irrelevant’ things!
I walk a decent distance of half a kilometer every morning, towards my bus stop. And one my way, I have quite a lot of ‘irrelevant’ details to look at and often smile at. The ‘petti-kada’ auntie, the ‘chechi’ by the corporation water supply, the repeated questions about my college and morning greetings from a acquaintance, and the occasional black dog and the dark faced man. And there are (scary) dogs and cats and scary hussle of bikes and cars. And there’s the occasional glimpse of the black dog and the dark faced man. Nothing specifically that I look forward to, but all the more a part of my mornings.
And then one fine day, I walk along and see a black flag by the black dog’s and dark faced man’s house. There’s death in the air, but no matter what, I get my daily bus. So I walk past the house, not looking out for anybody in specific. And so passed a week, and I wonder where the dark faced guy disappered, along with the dog! A death at his home and all I see are stangers around, and kids performing the final rituals. Funnily now, the obvious still hadn’t struck me. And on the seventh day ritual, ‘sanjayanam’, I walk by the place again. Dramatically, through the gathered crowd, I see the dark face photographed and framed, with a garland around it. The obvious finally occured to me. And for the first time, I gazed at the board that bore the dark face’s name and occupation. He was an LIC agent. The irony didnt stop me, but something else did. I was tansfixed for a breif moment, for an awkward amount of seconds.
It is irrelevant, isnt it? Someone I haven’t talked to, have had no association with, whose name I didn’t even know while he was alive! It was just a ‘someone’ who died. But suddenly, it gave in for a large void and deep flow of thoughts. Thoughts that took me in for two weeks or more, and I have been thinking of the dark face and the black dog that suddenly vanished. I wanted to ask around. Did he have cancer? Did he die of a tragic accident? Did he commit suicide? I wanted to ask a lot of things. Almost a month, and I have been still thinking on it. And finally today, I got the answer. He just fell in the bathroom, hit somewhere and just simply died! A plain simple death!
It’s not the death. But the absence. The sudden void that shook me. I am not even sad for him. Come on! I didnt know him at all! But I miss some presence in that road, in my mornings. A haunting feel that makes me realise how many such irrelevant voids make up our lives! Or my life atleast. I missed my acquaintance’s queries and greetings. He too passed away, but the absence wasnt felt this intense.
It’s often not how much you talk or how much you know, but simply if the absence is noticed. I choose to believe my presence may go unnoticed but not my absence. For me, I have always mourned upon absences even when I missed to relish the presence! To go back and look at someone else’s life, and see if your absence is felt, may be a crazy thought. Dare not to do it, anyway. It hurts like hell when the realisation strikes hard! Most presences in life are unacknowledged. Even more, most absences are unnoticed. Voids are, after all, irrelevant by nature!
I am inexplicably ashamed and mutilated by this day. Today. Despite a screeching proud mob around me. It was such a disgusting experience. Feels like I just became a part of some unforgivable crime. An offence to humanity, whatever tiny bit that’s remaining in this world.
I had high expectations of this, people. You, every single one who worked for it, made me feel good. Until today. Until one of you proclaimed it so loud, that, all these that’s done right now, is totally ‘just for the sake of it!’ Well folks! That was total *******. What the heck was that then? The whole ‘social-networking’ about ‘social-commitment’! Who do you think you are bluffing here? Listen up people! It’s EXACTLY this way that you screw something as BIG as this! And yay! You have set one wonderful example! If you think this is how you carry forward a legacy bestowed upon you, then shame on you. Not me. But if you think this how you ‘boost’ your good for nothing public image, then shame on me. For trusting such a self centered organisation.
People do things wholly for themselves. 100% for their happiness. Their satisfaction. Their well being. But when people form a group, a stupid few like me expect something more. A group is looked upon, to contribute beyond the group. To do things beyond ‘just for the sake of it’. A minuscule amount of goodness and ‘commitment’ that the group claims! Be just. Be fair. Be transparent. And above all, continue being a group, not a mob. Be the ‘actual’ change you want to see in this world!
P.S. Names, people, events, or places are not mentioned here ‘purely’ out of a moral discipline and sensibility. Recipients of the message are free to respond, in private or public. And mind you, this is not a singled out voice. There’s a subtle group behind the voice. Thanks for the understanding.
On a second thought, I was wondering if we should be going at all. Running way late from the schedule, there was hardly anytime to actually spend there. But then again, I thought, we might not be getting another comfortable day like this. Then it was a jet flash spree to get there. Seeing the others already leaving, I was skeptic again. Go in! With a quick hey-bye to the leaving group, I rushed in. The once familiar place now left me (us) wondering. Where to begin from! This stairs? That corridor? The new block? So many new rooms! So many new boards. The trademark aquarium missing. The omnipresent blue and white replaced with unidentifiable hues, and kids walking around in such shades! The place is very much our own, but yet to be disowned in so many ways, for so many reasons! The home to our dreams, passion, spirit, and oneness.
Kendriya Vidyalaya Ernakulam is not anybody’s private property. But so many of us still claim it our own. To the extent that, you feel comfortable to run the computer lab and mock at Radha madam for still being stuck with the same clerical chores! Or to walk into library and put your friends as prey to Jikki madam’s never ending lecture, and smoothly slide into the books. Pull ‘your’ chair, (I had my own chair at our library hours!) and grab a book, stare at the wall hangings and decipher meaning out of horribly lengthy quotes! To walk into Physics lab and look around as if you are looking for a friend, go in and seach all nook and corner, (actually searching for Suresh sir!), like you own the lab! Barge into staff room and ask for teachers, like they once did to us and took us to the ‘task’! And last (totally not the least that we can do. We are capable of so much more in the school!), wait outside the Principal’s office, talk, giggle, laugh, jibber-jabber, do whatever. And distract the Principal’s meeting to bring out Samuelkutty sir out of the meeting! And finally, just stand suspiciously along the corridor or staff room door. Betty madam or Nambiar sir might have something to tell you.
And of all things said and acknowledged, I never expected to hear, “You should have taken English or journalism. That was the expectation from you.” Wasn’t I elated to hear that! Rajalakshmi madam says how would I be ever forgotten! (My companions might have felt bad. But I felt uber good! Hope you girls ain’t reading this! 🙂 ) What about me makes them remember me? Rosily madam of all teachers! I was surprised she remembers us! (read ‘me’ :P) I should have done something more worthwhile than B.Tech! No matter what technological marvel I ‘might’ be a part of, I don’t ever think that any such achievement can replace the disappointment from my English teachers. It is not regret, but ‘missing’ English!
At the end of the day, I am glad. To have had such a pleasant retrospective. To have ran through the corridors once again, and jumped up the stairs, and wandered across the auditorium. Reminded of a past. Of innocence. Of happiness. Of dreams. Of satisfaction. Of friendship. Of the awesome days. Without regret. Bliss.
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Scene # 1
“Onnume sonna purinjukka mattengaradi. Thookathila kanavu kandu bhayappedaralam. Thoongave mudiyarathillai. Enna seyyanam theriya maatengarathu.” She talked on and on. What is to be said now? I turned around to him. He is not smiling. Why isn’t he? He always used to. Didn’t he appear healthier in the hospital? He even cracked a joke or two. And we laughed all afternoon. Yeah, laughed. But now, he is not even smiling. Is this what’s like being unstable? Shuttling between extremes! I inched forward,and slid a finger into his palm. He held tight on to it for a second and then let it go. He wouldn’t hold it anymore, no matter how long I waited. Like a baby who plays with your finger, only till its fascination. “Antha hanumanoda manthram sollindu padutha porum. Appo pinne swapnam onnume varathu. Illatalum, enna swapnam kandu bhayappeda! Ellarum irukkomillaya inga.” Did he hear that? Yes, he did. He’s thinking now. Even trying to say something. He’s trying hard to recollect the stanzas, uttering the first line. Did he seek help? Perhaps not. He was trying to revive it back, and fill in the voids between the lines. And I was trying hard too. I couldn’t recollect it either! Was it a bad thing to remind him now, about the better times of life? He was visibly struggling to get words out of the brain, and sound out of the throat. One stopped cooperaying when the other gave in. It’s like, his thoughts and voice won’t ever give up for eachother. Could he ever say what he really meant, ever in life? I couldntjust stand there anymore. Others had left already. I told her and got up to leave, went upto him and held his hand for one brief moment and turned away to leave. And there he took it over from, “Budhir balam, yashodhairyam, nirbhayathvam arogatha. Ajadyam, vakpaduthvamcha, hanumath smaranath bhaveth!” Did he not smile now? I smiled.
Scene # 2
To be continued…
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Echoes of the silence!
Can silence echo? Does silence take a form of sound? I am wondering. How do mute people think? I mean, I think in English when I communicate in English, or Malayalam or Tamil, or whatever is relevant. How does a mute person think? Aren’t thoughts associated to words? And words to language? And language to syllables? And syllables to sound? Don’t we all need sound to think?! Obviously, no. I know. It’s not the knowledge. It’s the amazement. It’s the sheer marvel of life around you. I see a lot of mute people here. In bus. In the road. Mostly, coz there’s some school/institute for them nearby, which I haven’t come across with yet. So my awe is not totally out of place. I always see them communicate with each other in those crowded buses. They want a seat to sit down so that their hands are free to communicate thru their gesture. I used to feel bad. But then thinking about what might they do in the dark, I often let the thought just pass by and close my eyes in silence.
Ganesh chathurthy. Grand procession was on its way from the heart of the city, to the beach nearby for the auspicious ritual. Huge statues of Lord Ganesh would be thrown into the sea in reverence. The festive mood had stricken the city and the crowd hustled in the backdrop of deafening audio systems. Devotion was at its peak, with the blaring woofers. And I was to get a phone call exactly then, as I maneuvered myself out of the chaos, of noisy people and shrieking sound systems. I could do nothing but to put the caller on hold until I was out of the vicinity. On the way, I spotted two people. Probably, somebody whom I have already met but hard to recollect. The one thing I could connect, however, was that they were mute. They were talking. Calm and uninterrupted. The deluge of the sound systems hardly made any impact on their conversation. Life stood still. As the moment passed, I walked away, turning back at them once more. They were still talking. Unaware of the deafening sound. Unaware of the marvel. Unaware of the admiration.
My dad is a typical average earning Indian. Not too much but just enough, is his shopping slogan! Of most things I am intrigued about him, his where-does-each-penny-go is the one that draws me more! Everytime I ask for something, he gets it for me, but only after his tiring set of tests. First question, “Unakkithu venama ippo?” (Do you actually want this now?). “Enna vilai? Ivvalavu aavuma? Innam rendu kadayila kettu pakkalaame!” (Does it really cost so much? Why don’t we just ask around a few more shops!) That’s pretty much all you need! The question keeps echoing, ‘Do I need this now?’. And if for the nth time, if the answer is still yes, yes, I am getting it from him! He never forgets to add, “Nyayamana karyam naan orikkalum venda chollamtten.” ( I never say no to your fair demands!) And that, to this day, he sticks to his word! The only thing he rejected outright was pizza, which, however, he accepted in a later period of time! The value for money, the need for self evaluation before throwing your wallet across the counter and the judgment of product utility – they are all things he taught me, without his own knowledge. Last week I go home to see this thing, hanging on the wall in our hall! The old rickety clock looked odd there, but I loved the tick-tick and the ding-dong! So I casually asked dad how much did it cost him. He said 1.5k. Silence. I didn’t ask anything more. The more I contemplated on it, the more interesting and funny it seemed! My count-every-penny dad bought this clock! I kept staring at it. Dad somehow felt the scope of an explanation, and he did. “I know its expensive.But it was just a craze to me, to own a mechanical clock”. He started explaining how it needs to be wound only once a week, and how the ding-dong startles him in the middle of the night and on and on. I though of mentioning the mechanical wrist watch we gifted him, but later thought otherwise. It was a man’s passion. To own a piece of elegant excellence, from his earlier life and past. I just had to smile! 🙂 Only to irritate him, I said how nice would it be for me to realise my passion too, by holding a 40k phone, despite the ‘expense’! And right came the response. A more advanced 45k thing would be out on the market, the moment I buy the 40k product. Things keep changing, improving upon their own predecessors. But nothing is ever gonna improve and replace the mechanical ding-dong wall clock. Somethings acquire worth, just be their being, from the past, thru the present, into the future. Beyond the transience of times, beyond the worth of time itself!
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Now that most conversations and relationships are maintained online, and there’s more ‘CAPSLOCK’ than actual yelling, more ttyl, more brb, more dnd, more cya, more whatever. Frankly, I don’t care. I don’t care if the soul in people’s communication is absent, I don’t care if emotions are dead, or if intimacy is lost or if distance builds between people! People are talking (rather blabbering) whatsoever! That’s more than glad! If you want warmth in your relationships, closeness with people of your life, and enliven the spirits, probably one should just go for it. Put your heart to it and do it. Online or offline. It’s not the means, it’s always the place where you make upto! Just wanted to say, to all those intellectual freaks, who lecture about how technology seeped into human relationships and fucked it up. How whiny is that! You don’t even know to guard your own mind and soul, and blame it all on the mind-less soul-less technology! It’s not gonna blame you back afterall!
But certainly, there’s one thing I greatly despise or find upsetting about the turn of events as such. These emoticons! Truly annoying! I’d rather say, misunderstood, misused and that’s such a mishap! Nobody ever fully gets what the other person tries to convey with a combination of colon, semi-colon, paranthesis and p’s and d’s and o’s! It’s been of such extensive use that it no longer means anytging. Well, use them anyway. I do too. They are the ice-breakers and once in a while, funny too. But I am sad how my smiles don’t pass by this. I put a : followed by a ) coz I actually really genuinely love to smile. And when I say keep smiling, I totally mean that. In the havoc of millions of colourful and disgusting smileys, I wish 🙂 could win the throne back and be the master of all smileys! Bring the pioneer back, I say! Back then, with the smiling face, was the only time we could actually communicate ’emoticons’ without confusion! A sad face, once in a while, was fine too!
Now thinking of it, ‘Keep smiling!’ was the motto of my school. The school that laid that basic blocks of my morale and principles. Wonder why it took me so long to assimilate the thought! Everytime, I saw that writing on the black board, I was wondering what’s up with the grown ups! Why would they even teach us to be escapists, run away from life, and ignore problems and just keep smiling? But now, at 21 years of age, I feel like Buddha! Like, the meaning just revealed to me. Like, all that I ever wanted was just buried so deep in my mind, next to a school girl’s confused thoughts! The answer reveals itself and it’s all in the smile. Putting it short, the whole deal here is that, when I tell you (you being my online conversation partner) ‘Keep smiling’, I most genuinely mean it. More than words.
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