The ’30 under 30′ list!

At one point or the other, do we not all want to be in some kind of list? List of students who move on to the next class in school. List of students who got into the prestigious college. List of people who can buy land in Mars. List of people who survived an accident. List of people who would make it through one more day. Endless lists of endless things. Endless feats. 30 under 30, 40 under 40, 50 under 50… but why? Lists give you a sense of accomplishment. Ticking every item, striking off each accomplishment – a list is a definitive way of measuring success at a personal level. Impersonal lists may or may not be definitive, but they still are a means to see how far you have reached.

Sometimes I wonder how cool would it be to be actually featured in some ’20 under 20′ or ’30 under 30′ list. It would feel super amazing I suppose. 20 under 20 is gone and 30 under 30 is also slowly slipping away. Never mind though. 40s and 50s are right there intact. Okay, now it sounds very weird. It’s almost like I believe there has been any such actual accomplishment in life. To clear things up, that wasn’t quite the intention of this intro. I am only trying to put my thoughts about lists and their relevance in our lives.

You and I – we all have lists. From grocery to daily to-dos – the list of lists is endless. Do you often wonder how these lists take control of our lives? Marking things on it and striking them off are so satisfying, aren’t they? The feeling of accomplishment of something. And it is all that we all live for. Some mental lists, some paper lists, some unwritten lists – reminders on the things to chase for. It is fascinating how aimless one feels without a list of action items. What happens to free will and thinking on the feet? Oh well, they do exist. But almost always enveloped by a big picture of some bucket list or to- do.

There were times in life when I had more than 3 to-do planners. With groups and folders and RAG status and what not. I still have some of those kind. But all of them are for work. I’m too scared to keep one for myself these days. It just feels like a blaring proclamation of my failure to strike things off them. Or some such weird thought. And lost in that fear and uncertainty, I guess I’m just missing out on some really fulfilling moment of life. Exactly like so many other moments in life.

P. S. This is a writing I’ve been working on for some months now. With many interruptions and excuses, I managed to delay this forever to be published. Ironically, this one strikes one thing off my ‘not-written- down’ list – write away with an endless expanse of ocean outside the window! Last word written exactly in time before my last day with this view – oddly satisfying!

Life of a dog

It crushes my soul and bleeds my heart,
Like I can’t breath and survive another minute,
Seeing you here, stuck and lost,
Waiting for the door to open,
For someone to let you out,
To the world outside, to your natural self,
Embracing life as you know it.

I feel your pain choking my throat,
My eyes welling up from an unfamiliar sorrow,
Unknown and strange are my thoughts,
With the tears I shed for you, no matter the hate.

Scared and hopeless, you and me,
I open the door through the fear,
Knowing its only for you and for you to never return,
And for me to be here without respite.
Sans your sorrow, does mine diminish ever?
How would you know, after all you are a dog!

It’s dark everywhere

What is darkness my friend?

Is it when the light fails you,

Or is it when the mind fails?

What is being alone my friend?

Is it when you have no one around,

Or is it when this question echoes silence?

What is it to be sad my friend?

Is it the loss of happiness,

Or is it when you forget what’s it to be happy?

What is the end of sanity my friend?

Is it the beginning of a new world,

Or is it the continuum of end?

What is death my friend?

Is it when the soul leaves the body,

Or when the will just ceases to be..

Tears make you…

Strong, or weak? It’s a debated topic. Boys shouldn’t cry, men shouldn’t show their weakness and so on. Sometimes it’s beyond gender. Crying is somehow always associated with weakness and fragility. It’s weird though, that the other extreme of emotions aren’t associated with weakness or vulnerability. If you ask me, I think a person is the most vulnerable when they are angry. Of course, crying is perhaps the saddest phase, but anger is when you have no control on your words, your body language, your psyche as such. Anger is when you say things you wouldn’t have said otherwise, anger is when you lose your mind – anger is your vulnerability. When you cry, you expose your vulnerability, of course. So do you, when you are angry. The difference is, one vulnerability is exploited in favour of others but not necessarily against you, and the other vulnerability is almost always exploited against your own interests. When in tears, you might agree to give away half your wealth to someone empathizing with you. But in anger, you might just end up breaking the most expensive vase you bought last week. Without having to explain, wealth and the vase are all just metaphors and not literally about their physical worth. I always fear being exploited in a way that I lose something cherished, than someone else gaining something from me. But again, I cry as often as I lose my temper and throw stuff around (atleast inside my head!). It’s a balance most people struggle to establish. I would totally like to say crying makes you stronger, but that could be very one-sided since I don’t know how strong you get without crying. One thing I can, however, is that anger makes you equally fragile and weak in the knees. Should we not start a saying that ‘Boys shouldn’t be angry’? Perhaps, take out the gender and rephrase – ‘People who make it are people who start with inner balance!’

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!

Letting go!

Of all things in life, if I am to let go of something, I’d rather let go of my fears. Not all of them together. But may be, one by one. For a long period of my life, I thought I had feline-phobia. I was so afraid of cats. I still am. But then, I guess my greater fear was in acknowledging that I was afraid of cats than the fear itself. So I decide to let go of that one fear today. And I am proclaiming my fear. Yes! I am shit scared of cats though I always preferred calling it hatred or dislike or whatever. Today morning, I was beckoned by someone at the door. It was rather a ‘mya..mya’ that I heard and interpreted as ‘soumya’. But it was self explanatory as I reached the door and saw a cat stretching on my balcony. The annoyance of being fooled and stupidly mimicked – I was so frustrated. But that wasn’t enough for me to kick that creature out of my home. I was too scared to even go any close, that I had to call my grandma to shoo that thing away. “Thankachikkari konjuval. Nee oduvai.” (Your sisters pampers it, and you run away seeing it!) The ‘it’ being that 4 legged creature.

I was insecure about letting go of fears. As anyone else would be. But then, there happens these life changing moments, once in a while. To inspire you to let it go. To push you, a level ahead. I am glad it happens. Its like a sudden revelation that tells me it’s not worth hiding under the covers. That, life just happens once, as we know it, and its never too late to start over right now. But may be, the next moment could turn to be too late. So here I am, letting go of it. One by one. By confronting people and things and all that my fears attribute to.

One of the very first times, today, I had another two wheeler bumping onto mine. I was parked by the roadside and waiting to make a U-turn, when a lady casually brushes against my vehicle and parks and walks away. As she was gonna walk away, I called out for her and demanded an explanation. There was no huge damage, but an apology would have been still welcome, as it was evidently her carelessness. But to my surprise, she yelled and freaked out, as though I came hit her from behind. For a moment, I thought I was her. Too scared to confront. Too scared to accept one’s own mistakes. I could see more of fear than accusation in her. I was her. Most of my life. But the rest of my life, I knew how not to be her. And how much I want to be not her. So the rest of my life, that’s what I would like to do. To let go of fears. And everything else that chains down the flowing spirit in me.

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Pulse!

When I say pulse, I am not sure about what exactly am I trying to say, even within myself. It could rather be interpreted as some ‘symptom’ of life! Or, in more contemporary terms, the pulse of something is the essence of the thing itself. Essentially, breathing and the beating heart and the neural throbbing symbolises the pulse of life and staying alive. But, often, we come across mannerisms and habits (aka compulsive obsessions) that let you know they sure are alive nd kicking, beyond the inhale-exhale routine. And most of the time, its mockery upon people’s OCDs. But at once, I realised there’s some fact in this.

As on most weekends, we set off to meet our grandparents (mom’s). But this time at my aunt’s place, as they had come over there. By the time we reached, grandpa was sick. Low sugar. He was exhausted and lying down. Everybody got worried, stuffing him with as much ‘sweet’ness as they could. Mom went uber crazy, under pressure, which used to be typical of aunt. Hustling around, I thought people were nnecessarily making a fuss there. After all, thatha (grandpa) is old and he’s used to be of a weaker health for the past decade. But he’s always strived and came out good. So I sat down on a chair, across the hall, facing him. Everybody was still standing, and I went WTF in my mind! It’s not like I loved him any less. Perhaps I’d say, I am the one who loves him the most, second only to ammammai (grandma). May be that’s not true from somebody else’s perspective, but definitely for me. So it was not like I wasn’t concerned. I was just sure its all gonna be fine. But then I notice something. I saw his hand, awkwardly clenched, like he has no more control over them. Could it be a stroke? Is his mouth slightly awkward too? Did he just get paralysed to his right? Infinite questions and my head would have just exploded. I got up (calmly or in a mad rush, I don’t remember) and went over to feel his right hand. The reflex he showed surprised me and soothed me all over. He held my hand, not too tight, not too gentle, as always when we depart, and we shook hands and he managed a slight laugh. I laughed too. Did I everyone else in the room too? I was too soothed to notice. I left him, with the still-concerned daughters and sons-in-law! I went over and continued the conversation with lechu (the cousin, as most of you know by now!). For now, we had made a pact over the handshake! And we’d made our peace to eachother.

And later on, as my uncle reached, thatha was still not stable. He was dizzy and disoriented. It was evident he hardly understands his environment. So then, mama (uncle) tries his usual prank on thatha. “Appa, ethra manikku serial thudangum? Rathri ennathu? Bhairavi thaane?” (Dad, when does the TV series begin? What’s it tonight? ‘Bhairavi’ is it?) And thatha prompty responds, ” Aamam, Bhairavi. Serial pathe kaalukku thaan” (Yeah, it is ‘Bhairavi’. The series begins at 10.15 only!). Mami interrupts, “Appakku ellam sheriyayachu ippo!” (Dad is all good now!). And now, the silence in the room breaks into laughter, as everyone’s sure thatha is fine, that he now grabs back on to his biggest OCD ever – Tamil TV series!

But to me, it was the unique handshake that told me he’s fine. It was never the usual handshake. Back then, he used to chide me and accuse me for trying to steal his ring, as we shook hands. Later at some point, he perhaps thought I am too grown up for that prank. But we still continued the handshake ceremony, even if we never talked the whole time. It grew into an OCD between us and I was immensely happy to see that he related ‘our’ thing to my casual touching of his hand. A while ago, mom had called to check on him. He’s fine expect that he has no memory of us coming to see him today. But I guess, the OCD would work anyway. That’s how it works!

Life is that. From interests, to cravings, to yearnings, to obsessions. Things that you wouldn’t let go until the last breath. Things that certify, that you’re more than a piece of breathing flesh. Things that define you and your existence. Things that you are hated for. Thing that you are loved for. Yet the same things that you are identied with. Things that make life, and help you live beyond inhalations and exhalations!

F.R.I.E.N.D.S

I miss FRIENDS! That’s what we had named our group chat in fb. A bunch of us, who shared similar and differing thoughts, and yet who cared enough to share it with eachother. I initiated the chat, as a 3 people convo. Almost a month ago,I guess. And by now, it has grown big enough, including all 12 or so of us, the like-minded! And today,I just kicked myself out of the conversation. I miss it there! I so much want to get back to the conversation but the reason I got out for, still stays. So now, I just miss my FRIENDS and I sit so blank! Not wanting to go back, but not able to sit alone. What should I let go of now!

This is a piece of writing that someone would expect to go into their Dear Diary times. Not on a public blog, where heated discussions on global socio-economic crises or emotional crests like euphoria or hysteria or some -ria is expected! But I suppose, blogging is more about opening upto the world, rather than cooking up stuff! Writing what you feel.about what happens in your life is more important than evaluating global stands on the world’s existence.

I hate those people, who write so much, who talk so much. About human belief systems, mental struggles of the people of the world, the survival and its cost! Duh! As if, you have been through the struggle, or have ever had any belief system or even have known any question on survivlal. Writing should be genuine, about things that you know, things that you feel and experience! Be an expressive writer than just a columnist!

Arts @ college.. #1- Flash mob!

The most enthralling sight of my life happened yesterday. I have seen people laugh in groups, cry in groups, fight in groups, sing in groups, and do so many other things in groups, having eachother’s back at all times. Well, if you ask me, I have seen people dance in group too. Those group performance on stage. But Flash Mob is a totally different thing! Its a totally different experience. The performers jumping out of the audience, practically flashing out of the mob. So unexpected that the whole performance least bit looks an organised and systematic performance, though that’s all it really is. The vibrance and enthusiasm of the performers are brimming. Almost like, it might influence anyone to shake the body a bit and move with the beat. Watching my first ever Flash Mob, I almost wanted to pop out of the audience and dance! Don’t bother I don’t know dance or I am obese or I am not ‘dance material’! It was an urge that couldn’t be replaced!

Well, for the record, I did not dance but I so wanted to! It was a moment of ecstacy and pure joy! Those couple of moments, were some of the best moments of the Arts Day at college, for the exhaustion of the day, yesterday. There’s so much more to write and share and feel good about the Arts! Let this be part #1 of the series! There’s always too much to write. Just never enough time to finish it all!

Kalyanamelam!

So marriage season again in the family!!! In less than a year’s gap after the last marriage, the next kalyanamelam is up in the family! Oh my god!!! I am so excited about this next big thing in the family. But as much as it, I am tensed and worried. Who’s gonna be next in line? Nah, not immediately ME. I have still people to lead me in the line. From the infinite seeming line of cousins yet-to-be-hitched, we have now reduced to 3 or 4! And that’s scary coz everything seems so quick and out of anyone’s control. It’s not particularly about getting married or not getting married. Its about how life changes after every such twists in story. We were all cousins, friends who played along, confidants to eachother, casual and light headed. But as I have seen it always, and what marriage does to a person, it is like losing someone too close to someone else, who you hardly know! Shouldn’t it be rather like a new person is getting in the train with us and that we all might make the journey more wonderful? So it should be. Its not like marriage breaks a family. Its just that things never stay the same. At times, we improve with life and get better with relations. But at tmes, it’s not an improved life that we all seek. Or so with me, I often cherish life as it was, before we all grew up to ‘marry-able’ age, and when we were just there for eachother, by a sense of oneness that seeped in, in each of us, ever since birh, all into the childhood. And at the onset of adulthood, I wonder if ‘manni’ (sister in law) could be as loving as ‘akka’ (sister) or if ‘athimber’ (brother in law) could be as caring as ‘anna'(brother)!

This is not a post script. Just a note I add, to clarify my seemingly twisted writing. I have a manni who has been more loving than any akka. And an athimber whom I’d feel so safe with as my anna. I wasn’t comparing. Nor complaining. Just getting settled with the idea of one more marriage, and losing one more from the ‘children’ group of the family into the responsible and serious adult club!