Classical music is something very close to my heart. Neither am I a singer nor can I even actually enjoy it. But it is a very nostalgic thing to me. It reminds me of the ‘horrific’ music classes I was forced to attend, the ‘rich’ family where most relatives have got something to do with music and all those dreadful Navaratri days when I was forced to sing at random homes. Most of my painful associations with music came to a stop ever since I passed on the baton to my sister. The only difference perhaps is that she actually sings. There was a time in life where I was very choosy about the genres of music. Over time, I’ve begun to realize music is all that matters, no matter the genre. I now listen to very random tunes and enjoy the presence of music in life. I’m no longer searching for the music of my life, but merely bobbing my head and tapping my toes to every tune that flows by. Life is so beautiful when you discover the music in it. Wavy and fluid.
Recently, the most stupid decision that I took was the 30-day blogging challenge with myself. I’m glad I didn’t invite anyone else into the challenge and put that person through the torture of reading what I write. The last couple of days whatever I wrote isn’t the best of me. Not just that, some of them are even utterly horrible. Somewhere between this challenge, I started looking at this as just another chore of the day. Somewhere, I did lose the spark of thoughts and the fluidity of words. Almost mid-way now, should I let go of this challenge then? After all, the content is bullshit. But no, I’m not letting go. Think of a sport you enjoyed before the Lockdown. Or a regular activity you did outside of your routine. You miss them now, I’m sure. And once the lockdown is lifted, you’d want to rush back to that routine of yours. With no practice for the last couple of months, would you have your best shot right away? A little warm up and some extra effort would make all the difference there. So is the case with my writing. This 30-day challenge is indeed with myself. To make me convinced that I can resume writing – write without a pause. Perhaps not the worst decision eh!
Rattling roofs, splashing water,
Croaking frogs, crickety crickets,
Buzzing phone, whirling ceiling fan,
Distant news reader, chirping birds,
Clacking keyboard, snoozing reminders,
Random voices, deluging conferences,
Humming notifications, pouring raindrops,
Creaking chair, and a fading music.
The concept of instant gratification has been doing the rounds for quite some time now. The Facebook & Instagram generation is what instant gratification is popularly associated to. But I think it runs deeper than that. It is not merely about the likes and comments. The realisation that things change quickly around you makes you want to change quicker than that. And the rat race never seizes. Until one reaches the rattrap. Does it even stop then? I’m not very sure. This whole mad race scares me. It feels like the beginning of an impending doom. What a wonderful time to write or think about the end of the world, huh! Now that we are at it, let’s talk a bit about this whole COVID-19 situation we’ve got ourselves into. People are dying every moment and that’s no big news anymore. The death rates are merely numbers now. Hundreds of thousands of lives are now just numbers that the whole world looks up to like a huge board at the stock exchange. Is the trend bullish today- are more people dying again?
We are all helpless. The government, the medical fraternity, the media, you and me – we are all doing our own bit either by fighting this war or staying home responsibly. And all we can do is to simply stare at the numbers. That’s perfectly fine, right until that point. What I find extremely troubling is how we took things beyond that.It was good until we made up our interpretations of this phase of life. At the very beginning, we said this is family time – to reconnect and rekindle relationships. Then we said this the time for exploring our passion – we cooked, we danced, we sang and we did numerous other things which I wouldn’t rather list down. And then we went a step ahead and said this is the time for new certifications and upskilling – because pink slips are soon gonna fly in.
If you notice, we are continuously in this blind race to keep up with ourselves – and all this while people are still dying and the world is changing with every breath. So what’s wrong with all this really? I’ m not saying it is. I’m part of this race myself and I doubt I’d do it any other way even if all of this were to repeat again. For all its worth, you and I are here for this moment and the gratification it comes with. We may be lost, but we wouldn’t know it ever as long as life goes on. Life’s good as long there’s something gratifying about it. I’d leave you to be the judge of that.
Why this obsessive compulsive post in the eleventh hour of the New Year’s eve? Well, just as much as it is an incurable OCD, it’s also a reminder of the all the moments I missed to cherish in writing. A reminder and a warning, just in case it may boost my morale to write more often. For my sake.
This is not a retrospect of 2019. But I definitely want to note down all those special things I wanted to write about, but didn’t. Top of the list is the most amazing trip of MBA life (second best if you count in Japan) – the IRCTC package tour to Orissa! I still can’t believe I didn’t write about it, and I regret it even 9 months later. Maybe another time. There were quite a few short trips like that I wanted to write about. The mini reunion for Convocation, the Tiruchendur Kanyakumari family trip, and even the trip that never materialized – Mystic Meghalaya. Again, maybe another time.
I wanted to write about winding up MBA and getting back home for once and all. I wanted to write about the mixed feelings of getting back to work after 2 long years. About the swimming adventures. The first complete and elaborate Kathakali experience. The unexpected death in the family. The new member in the family. The changing dynamics in friendship. The hunt for newer heights in career. And even the freshly brewed diet plan adopted a week before New Year resolution season, exclusively for fitting back into a favorite kurti.Now that I listed them down, 2019 has been eventful. Emotionally. Physically. And even Spiritually. A lot has happened, the impacts of which come with me to 2020 and beyond. Perhaps I need to reflect on each of them individually. Maybe another time. Maybe.
My home, Appu’s too. That has been the hardest reality I am trying to put up with recently. Apart from global warming, world poverty, Indian politics and general joblessness. Seems that even if I survive them all, I can never accept the existence of this new member of the family. This blog was planned exactly a year ago. When I was away from home, my family celebrated the first birthday of our pet dog, Appu. Cake, a fancy cap, sadhya with payasam, (though the dog had it’s routine curd rice) and a prolonged description of all these to me. The pet’s birthday was quite a big deal. That’s when I thought of the title – the sharing of my home and my family with a new unwelcome member.
Owing to many reasons, read excuses, like lack of time and laziness, I never completed the post. Coming to think of it, perhaps, I was just giving myself time, to know the dog better, maybe try to adjust with it’s existence, if not love it, and then write down something nice instead of my generic snarls about animals and their domestication. As things turn out to be, a year passed by and the dog is a year older now. But nothing changed about the ‘two of us’. Oh wait, I just addressed it as one among ‘us’. That changed I guess. Then again, as I write this, there’s some barking in the background. It doesn’t particularly annoy me, out of habit, but nor does it make me feel warm to the supposed ‘guardian’ of our home.
There’s a lot I learnt about Appu, over these two years. It’s basically a scardy cat, more than a dog. It’s scared of lightnings and thunders, rains, and even the slightest change in tone of anyone of us at home. It has befriended a lot of birds, and suddenly I see many types of them around my home, talking to the dog, stealing it’s food. That’s something I do appreciate about it’s presence at home. Appu loves mangoes, and raises serious doubts about it’s ‘dogliness’ when you throw a slice of ripe mango at it. The dog stinks, and sheds way too much hair for an OCDed human like me to deal with. It’s been the menace of my life, while it’s the apple of the eye for the rest of my family. My parents think of it as their begotten son, and my sister as her lost brother, I assume.
All that said, I don’t hate it. I never did. I am too scared and annoyed of its presence, but I am trying to live with it. Like I said, a reality I am trying to accept. My mom, on the other hand, is pretty convinced that I might even kill it on purpose. My sister wouldn’t disagree, I guess. But what they don’t see is that, there are a lot of ways to cope with things. Ways unknown to many are the norms of many others. When my entire family and extended family loves that 4-legged hairy barking creature unconditionally, I am genuinely intrigued. Why?! And at the end of the question, I am easing into a home that’s not just mine, but also Appu’s. Ente veedu, appoontem!
For the past twelve months of life, I have been struggling with the hassle of passwords. I have a user account that demands a monthly change of password, something that hasn’t been used in the past ‘x’ months. Security policy! I acknowledge the goodwill but that does not make me any less frustrated of remembering a mindless combination of alphanumeric, case specific and some special characters! Around that time, roughly an year ago, I came across an article that was a relief to all this distress!
Being in the same lines of password dilemma, the writer described how he came out of his chain smoking, and made up to his broken marriage, all with some random alphanumeric! And special characters. He started off with his password set as ‘QuitSmoking’ or something similar. And boom! He quit it..Exaggeration.. Level – Expert. That’s exactly what I thought. Then he went on saying, how he brought back the romance in life, controlled the temper, and finally made peace with the passwords! Of course I smirked and scoffed. And let it go. But the day came again, prompting for a new password. Scratching my head to find a pattern, I stumbled upon this write up once again. Giving it a shot, I chose an immediate life goal as my next password. Adding some pattern to the digits and the special characters did the trick. Twelve month down, and I still remember my password set last January. Not just easy to remember, these passwords did make an impact on my life.
Through the past year, I smiled bigger, talked less, and said ‘not later’ to kill my procrastination. I told myself to keep calm for a month, and when it didn’t work, I said to myself again, to keep calmer. I tuned my mind for a competitive exam, and reminded myself to not lose focus. All through these passwords. That’s one thing that I’m taking with me into 2017. ******** to life!
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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I was often caught off guard with this line! Tell me not in mournful numbers, life is but an empty dream! More often than less, I preferred the predicate than the subject itself! And today, a very dear one gave me an eye opener by making me read the complete verse. I see the subject now, with much clarity and bliss.
To my soul and my soulmate, for making me relate to this, and giving me those silent smiles of understanding, over the long long seven-eight or nine-ten years!
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the worlds broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howeer pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God oerhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing oer lifes solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
– H W Longfellow (Long sighted and large hearted indeed!)
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!