Saturday, December 03, 2016

On Her Deafness

When John Milton wrote, On His Blindness, arguably one of his most revered works, he was almost completely blind.

Inversely, as I write this, I am almost completely not-deaf. Finally, in my senses. Somewhat. It’s great to get back to ‘normal’—if there’s any such thing—or is it?

Two weeks ago, I had lost the ability to hear. Thanks to an annoying rendezvous with a cold that liked me so much that it overstayed its welcome. It infected my right ear and made thoughts, words, sounds, noise—sometimes my own—alien. It felt like people were talking to me lightyears away. Like I was talking to myself lightyears away.

I realized, how oblivious I was to my ears, and every little thing I heard. Whether it mattered or didn’t. Whether it was worth it or not. But when you lose the ability to hear, you have to double the effort to use the little ability that’s left to hear. This also means you tend to listen to even trivial, ignorable, slight things that you couldn’t care less about.

And because of your lack of hearing prowess, you tend to strain to hear which sometimes appears like you are taking interim interest in petty things. Like the color of the new Rs 2,000 note and how it has ‘nano-technology GPS’, which is absolute bullshit. Nano-technology and GPS are as compatible as demonetization and a migrant worker. They don’t work well together because one has nothing to do with the other. Severe lack of logic gets me worked up. With my half-ear, I gave them an earful.

In that list of trifles, there’s another wedding in the family. Alright, that isn’t petty but weddings are over-rated. And the more weddings I attend, in whatever capacity, the less and less I want to hear more of it. Ah! Hear. And because I couldn’t hear, I thought I’d be spared. But no mercy for the disabled. Not even from your own family.

What to sing, what to dance, what to wear, how to look, I am asked, like I am the Google of weddings. They send me songs that I can’t hear, they sing to me when I can’t appreciate, they show me clothes that I am not thrilled about, and they share choreographed sangeet performances that make me want to pop my antibiotics—even when I don’t need them.

Worse, you can’t even say their demands fell on my deaf ears or like they say I can’t even do ek kaan se suno, dusre se nikaal do. The right ear is blocked. No outlet, bro!

I should have broken a few bones or lost my memory or something. The sorry fact that I was hard of hearing, sadly didn’t qualify as an excusable disability.

But there’s always a silver lining. I am glad I was able to lend an ear, thankfully the one that was working, to a friend who needed it the most. I had to not merely just hear what she was saying, I had to listen. Sometimes, you don’t need ears to listen. Okay, at least not both. You only need to listen. Just that.

The first time I read On His Blindness was over ten years ago. But it has stayed with me to this day. And I don’t know why. I don’t even like it that much.

Not like William Wordsworth’s Daffodils. That, I truly love. It’s such a happy poem, such a happy place:

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

As long as you can feel that, who needs ears?

Friday, November 25, 2016

When Reason Met HIM

HE said: It’s November 8,
We must no longer wait.
Time to throw a surprise.
Let’s demonetise.

A shocked Reason stepped in.
It said: 86 percent in the bin?
HE said: Don’t question my ‘advice!’
I am NaMo, and NaMo is wise.
Let’s demonetise.

Reason looked aghast.
It said: The economy won’t last.
HE said: Oh that’s bound to reprise.
Let’s demonetise.

Reason let out a cry.
It said: People will fry, ATMs will dry!
HE said: That’s a small price,
‘The greater good’ will realize.
 Let’s demonetise.

Reason tried again
It said: For the poor, too much pain.
Farmers, maids, daily wagers: What do they gain?
HE said: Oh can’t you see?
It’s not about the money!
For the greater good, they must rise.
Let’s demonetise.

Reason walked up to leave
It said: Black money will end, you believe?
HE said: It’s a gamble and I rolled the dice,
I am NaMo and NaMo is wise.
Let’s demonetise.

And since then, Reason’s lost.
In long queues, in a fake survey,
And a famished daily wager’s cost.
But NaMo and his followers apprise,
Don’t cry over Reason’s demise.
It’s a small inconvenience, not a vice.
Let’s demonetise.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pause for Effect

Sometimes the world is moving too fast for me.

I stare at that flyover outside my workplace. Between the blinds of those large windows, I see open blue skies, a few lonely trees swaying so lightly in the half-hearted breeze. I see cars, buses, trucks, and bikes rushing past. Like someone’s holding a remote and fast forwarding life.

It’s probably a sense of purpose that’s pushing the pedal. Something that needs to be done. Destinations to be reached, goals to be achieved, dreams to be fulfilled. And then what?

I have always wondered where people are going, what’s their story, why they are, the way they are. Sometimes I make up stories on behalf of all these people I see.

An old lady who drapes her saree in a strange, messy way that it always ends a few inches above her ankle—she never gets a seat in the metro—she’s probably a janitor at one of those commercial establishments that make the once green MG road dull as dust. She has three sons, and a drunkard for a husband. All useless. Or she just wants to be independent.

That god-fearing, youngish chap, orange dots on his forehead, pushes mankind to get a seat. He reads his Hanuman Chalisa off his cellphone, and doesn’t think giving up his place for that old lady, who can barely stand, is serving God. He’s probably an only child, only looking out for himself. Or he has always been the nice guy and is tired of finishing last.

That couple that’s always fighting. The girl’s always shouting. Bickering, mostly. And the guy, he doesn’t want to be there but he’s stuck. She is probably a nag, a controlling bitch. The guy, a repeat offender. Couldn’t care less. Why are they together? Because at the end of the day, love is blind. Bullshit. The need to be in a relationship. Even if it’s this half-ass.

That girl who’s always well-dressed, reading a Murakami or a Dan Brown or Amish Tripathi or anything that you must read to be respected. Just returned from a trip to the US, her Bath and Body Works sanitizer, hanging perilously from her handbag, gives it away. Her husband probably drops her to the bus stop and picks her up.  She is very polite to him—always. She is shy, doesn’t like people much. Or maybe she goes all crazy a few drinks down.

All of these people are part of that mad rush. They travel in those cars, buses, bikes that zoom past. Everyday. They are all moving.

I feel like I am static and the world is in motion. Like I am looking at all of these people going about their lives but I am...still. Not stagnant, but just not moving.

What’s the tearing hurry? Can we slow down? Stop and smell the roses, listen to the birds, hum that song, dream a little. Snatch the remote from that someone and pause for effect. Just be.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Frailty of Life

When a little dice rolls,
The mighty fall.
A mere speck of dust,
We are, that's all.

Like strings on a puppet,
Pulled up to dance.
When the curtain drops,
There's no second chance.

Why fight, why feud?
For what this mindless strife?
Many would kill
To live our small life.

Ashes don't speak,
Their stories are told.
In the past tense,
For generations to hold.

At the end of the road,
Everything loses meaning.
Like slipping sands of time,
You've left us yearning. 

How do we let go?
In us, your memories are rife.
Hanging on to its shards,
Such is the frailty of life.

--For Periamma

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Quit Quitting

Over 10 years ago, when I wrote my first ever post, I was a naive and hopeful idealist. I was hyper--in a good way, I hope--but very driven. I was a college kid, unaware or oblivious to the big bad world. I used to think everybody makes too much of a deal of 'you don't know how it is in the real world'. I used to believe, like everything else, I will figure it out. 

My writing was what you would call childish, dreamy-eyed and filled with exaggerated exclamations, loud and colorful. That's not always a good thing. I quit being yuppie.

But 10 years hence, I am alert, aware and not living in the bubble of idealism. That bubble burst as soon as I realized that journalism, the kind I was getting into, is a business. And it was heartbreaking. My blinders were off and I did not like what I saw. I quit being an idealist.

Of all the things that I could have chosen, I picked something that did not come naturally to me. In fact, it was on the other side of the spectrum of what I could do: Technology. I didn't know what I was getting into but I knew if I took the plunge, I would at least discover something new, if nothing else. I gave myself the benefit of doubt. I quit being a naysayer.

Sometimes at work, as in life, you have to do things you don't believe in. Like writing for customers not readers, like glorifying something that's as dull as dust, like learning grammar from people who can't spell their own names. You have to shift your principles to another part of your brain where a small voice says, 'it's just a job, don't take it so seriously'. Grudgingly, you learn to do that. It takes a while but you get there. I quit being stubborn.

In spite of quitting everything that defined me, when I didn't get what I deserved, when ideas were thrown out of the window, when beliefs were banished and when your efforts didn't make a difference, you know that its time to hang your boots. I quit quitting. 


Coming of Age

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