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.
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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Athenna appidi? (Why’s that so?) That’s the most repeated response I have ever made in my life. To everything. To everybody. I have always demanded reasons and explanations. For I believed, and still believe that everything out there, happens for a reason and each by itself is a cause for something else. So what’s it there? Spirituality or rationalism? Whatever you see, I, for once, believe its a mix of both. A splendid proportion of two paths, leading to the ultimate. I am often avoided for my ‘crude’ attitude, often ’embraced’ for my ‘cool’ logic, and often pulled into a never ending debate on the duality of my thoughts!
A child asks you ‘why?’ and you answer. As long as its not about ‘taboo’ topics like …the list depends on your attitide. For every other question a child throws at you, it’s always a pleasure, playing around, mimicking accents, building stiries, and all the more, clarifying doubts and explaining the ‘why?s’.
Mammam saapidu. (Eat your food.)
Athenna? ( Why’s that?)
Illatta sakthi kedakkathu. ( You won’t be strong otherwise.)
Perisaava maattay. (You won’t grow up.)
What do you answer beyond this? What I can possibly think of is, hug the kid and laugh your mind out. Coz there ain’t a further explanation you can offer. Nothing would ever satisfy the child’s mind, for its so filled with curiosity, or as we call it, innocence. But as the child grows up, we’d want it to shed the cover of innocence, but not the edge of curiosity. It’s obvious of us to expect things to change. But at the same point, isn’t it slightly ridiculous too? Why is a kid’s questions welcome here but not a grown ups? The response I got in my usual pre-blog discussion, was that there’s no innocence in a grown up’s curiosity and that, its rather inquisitiveness!
I can’t draw my lines together here, and conclude. I guess I am more of a kid when it comes to curiosity and ‘athenna?’ attitude. But I also assume that I am enough grown up, to distinguish between being ‘inquisitive’ and being ‘curious’. So what’s the whole deal here? Should you rather shove up your questions and reasoning somewhere deep within, in the process of building up a social rapport? Or rather not.
The past week at home, my dad was continuously pinning me down with the same ‘athenna?’ questions. And for a long time, I was wondering what went wrong. And slowly, I forgot about it. But later, I caught him explaining it to my sister.It seems he was just throwing it back at me; the way I used to get on his nerves by my rationalism! That gave me a good laugh indeed. Coz, surprisingly his attitude pleased me all the more, than the annoyance he assumed!
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I am freaking out. 24*7. So if you talked to me for more than 5 quality minutes, and if I still haven’t yelled at you or abused you, guess you turned out lucky. Or I was off then. I am freaking away. For every single thing. At every single person. It is not the usual surge of anger or sorrow or frustration. It is this new feeling that I-just-cant-take-another-bit-of-crap-from-you! So shut up. And go far away. Have any clue about the gravity of my thing that I am possibly (not) exaggerating? Have this person who I am so annoyed and irritated by. But out of respect for age, relation, and finally mocking a bit morality and courtesy, I have tried my maximum to not express my anger. What happens yesterday, this person shows up in my dream and I abuse and yell and scream and vent all my annoyance to the person, in my dream. And I woke up relatively peacefully that I finally did what I should have, atleast in a dream. This misleads me further now. Am I actually not to suppress my emotions but just go crazy and freak out about every simple (and I know, silly) thing and cause havoc in my surrounding! The only suggestive remedy I got till now..count 1 – 10. And so I go, 1…..2…..3…4..5678910 F*** ******! What do you even think of yourself you @#****!$?$?!
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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!
The most recent and dominant obsession that stayed in my life has been…what? I never had an answer to that question ever, as infinte things popped up in my mind, right from sleep, to books, to food. It never seemed too sensible to just pick one as ‘the’ obsession. Looks like I just resolved that confusion of mine. I have never been so obsessed about anything else, as I am about trains now. I am just so much in love with these train journeys that I am finding reasons to travel, which fundamentally doesn’t even exist! In the past week of 5 weekdays, I was travelling up and down for 4 days! Amidst which, I had too lab exams (which obviously is irrelevant!). My point is, for no real reason, I am lingering around the railway station. And today being the last day of the wonderful week, I even wished the train delays. And yay! My journey got extended by 30 precious minutes!
Meeting newer people on every trip, wondering at some people’s sheer piss-dom (the one that pisses off people in general!), running errands, leaning across the blowing wind, arguing for the right quantity of tea, prying at the near-by passenger, making sure he’s not a rapist, and the deluge of railway sirens and track cracklings! Each train journey is a unique experience, that could always make a post of its own in the blog, everyday! Not to forget the awesomeness of infinite picture-peferct photos! A couple of those photos may weave a story of their own, all by themselves! I miss the overnight train journeys, with the wobbly berth and the gentle lullaby of the train that puts me to a peaceful sleep!
Coming soon : Have a few photos and even a video, from my numerous train days. The ones with divine solitude and unbounded-ness! They will fill the voids I left in the post.
Yet another train journey. Yet another set of co-passengers. Yet another episode of effortless conversation. This time with a kid, much younger than my little sis! Meaning, I have no experience talking to such small kids. So as anyone could dare, I started off the conversation with a casual smile which she returned, and we held on it. She was an easy person to talk to, despite her age. Forgot her name already, rather, I quite didn’t understand the name when she told me. A less heard unique name. But her life, in the quite two hours of acquaintance, seemed usual to me. Typical parents, asking her to do that, not do this, take this, not take that, look here, not there, sit straight, not clumsy, oh my, the list goes on! The kid was being instructed about how to place the water bottle on the holder, as upto how to adjust her legs for the co-passenger (which was me!)!! I grew embarrassed looking at the child. At her untold apprehension. And inexpressive mannerisms. She was asked to wash, she did. Eat, she did. Wash again, she did. Take hands of the window sill, she did. Fold her legs to keep it neat, she did. Holy crap! Did they just stop by giving birth to the kid or did they go upto even teaching her to breath, giving lectures on pranayama!?!
I don’t share a similar childhood. I have had a much free and liberal days of growing up, when I got to mould myself into what I genuinely cherished and totally desired! My life is my decisions. And that’s the best thing that anyone can look at onself and say, at all odds and evens! And may be, this realisation is why I so much pitied the child. The parents seemed too unaware about how protection of their has outgrown the requisites and grown into unfathomable levels of obssession and over protection! All I could was to smile at her, making her feel done-it-all-seen-it-all aura, that I earnestly cooked up!
The title is what I named my feature on Nuclear Power Plants at Koodankulam! In Malayalam! I found that very amusing and beautiful. Kattadikalude naatiloode… But perhaps, that’s not how you write features for a magazine. What do I know about it anyway! Well, I am making another point here. May be its not always about what you know, but about how you express it. I am not an excellent writer nor an expert with words. But I am ardent in expressions of thoughts. In words. In speech. In action. Somehow. Thoughts are to be conveyed, shared and thought more upon. And there, I have a lot to share. My eloquence is one thing that makes me proud of myself. And only recently did I find out that, the blog is just one of the many forms of my expression, and not the ultimate of anything. There’s more talking to people, more interaction, more sharing of thoughts, more pooling of ideas, and exhaustive brain exercise! More like, I am just out of a long hibernation, and I feel revived now!
Going back to my feature, I have left that pending yet. Not that I can’t put down a few words and a liitle thought into them, and come up with the matter. But as I pointed out to myself, it’s not just about knowing but about the expression of it! Words are too few, for the infinite expressions of the multitudes of a mind’s knowledge. Waiting for my chosen few words, I think it’s worth it to give myself a break often. More than writing a lot of things, the focus is to be upon the expression of things. And to give away the best expressions of thoughts, thinking is what you need more than writing them down! Taking away a writer’s block, I am with a thinker’s pause!
I’m no atheist. I dont say I’m not a theist. Does that make me a believer of God or a non-believer? That’s tough question, though it basically is simple. I dont want to prostrate myself in front of the Almighty and show my submissiveness. (Looks more like I’m never so!) But that doesn’t mean I dont appreciate the wonders in life and marvel of this world. I’m grateful for my life. And I am spellbound by the nature’s bounty and the universe’s vastness and on and on. All appreciated and acknowledged. But those aren’t enough reasons I bow to someone everyday and let them know how huge a fan of them am I!
But somehow, there’s this one person, Poornathrayeesan, who totally gets me bowled over that I wouldn’t mind always bending low before him. (Not that I’m a regular visitor, but he knows.) The temple, the shrine, the very premise of the temple and my Poornathrayeesan. Everything feels so warm and soothing that I always imagine coming down till here and catch up with him once in a while. I so much love him. But I dont carry around his photo. Nor do I cry out his name in peril. I dont expect him to solve my problems. Now does all these make me an atheist? Looks like it!
Had gone to the temple. After something like very long. Not willingly, but had to join the family. And as ever I dont regret going to the temple. Nothing was the same, with respect to my lack of attention to the temple premise, though I cross it multiple times every weekend. The temple had two new entrances, by both sides of the main entrance, which, as a matter of fact, looked very awkward. But yeah, they had it for some purpose, may be for the elephants during the festival. The banyan branches were brutally chopped and made the tree look like some dry lifeless structure. Again, for some technical reason of convenience, may be. The inside of the temple remained more or less the same. But the first few minutes were strange as I couldn’t spot a single familiar face. (I usually walk into some of my old schoolmates or teachers.) Soon enough, I gave up that exercise and things were better. Familiar faces popped up alone and in groups. And it is only then that I realised that I really didn’t want to meet anybody at all. Sitting down on the sand, by the ‘pradakshina vazhi’, (the outer path circling the shrine), I felt like I’m at Shangumugham. Instead of waves kissing my feet, it was eyes locking with mine. Too many of them. Familiar faces. New faces. Strange faces. One after the other. It wasn’t soothing. But I got accustomed to the situation, almost started loving it. Playing the game that filled my childhood temple days, I was wondering how I’d forgotten it all these days and how I instantly remembered it as I sat down there. I wasn’t playing it as good as I used to. I couldn’t even consider the idea of running behind my sister, chasing her down, like those days. (She wasn’t there anyway. She was in search of her friends. So was dad.) Nothing was the way it was. The ambience is changed. The comfort has been damaged. The sense of possession is lost. It’s not ‘my’ temple. It’s not ‘my’ shrine. I see things I dont wish to see. Hear things I dont want hear. But still, the lord is mine. Or may be, within every mind, there’s a fence of possessiveness that doesn’t let anyone see what’s inside. May be the lord has split himself into pieces, and be present in every mind. But as long as I dont see that, I’m obsessed on my possessiveness. And claim my divine right!
I dont know of miracles that God does. I dont even know the wonderful sagas praising Poornathrayeesan. But I believe in his unquestionable power in making me write again. I never thought I could write so blissfully again, this soon. It’s indeed his charm that I write endlessly about miracles and theism and faith and fate. I’m a believer. No matter I go overboard expressing it or not. I’m definitely bound to my Lord. Taking a last glimpse of him, through the Pancharimelam, only to see him again and again, a million times.