Girl in the Mirror

Puffing and panting towards the auto, I manage to get the front seat,
And wipe from my forehead, the sweat that’s flowing for the heat,
I look into the mirror scratching my sweaty itching beard,
That was when all of the traffic before me suddenly cleared.

It wasn’t her, or her striking face that I first saw,
Sitting between two women, each with a clenched jaw,
Pushing back the hair from her face, strands ruffled by a breeze,
She leaned back, unruffled and so consummately at ease.

Ahead, the vehicles kept moving, striving to keep the frenetic pace,
Honking incessantly, expecting the sound to change their place,
As each got busier, trying to work their way out of the maze,
I too was busy, completely preoccupied by an enigma, her face.

Across the smoothly undulating, broad plains of her forehead,
The sticker was what stood out, a tiny dot in crimson red,
Her eyes were darting lazily, taking in the surroundings,
Looking this way and that, involuntarily shaking her ear rings.

Amidst the smoke, her nostrils gave no indication she was breathing,
Until one saw her lips busy with a phone, boy, she was talking,
Everyone around her was stuffy, the weather and sundry cursing,
She seemed the only one unconcerned, simply busy conversing.

Every time she looked ahead, I had to look away,
Furtively glancing as if I was interested in the way,
But my fascination soon got curiouser and held sway,
And I felt the mirror had today, made my day.

We finally got to the destination, time to alight,
I got out but couldn’t let her out of my sight,
She took a few steps, turned around and smiled, leaving me shocked,
It was the smile of a girl who knew all along she was being watched.

This one is another for the Mirror, being an unexpected continuation of Multitude. Sometimes the perfect symmetry in some people’s faces leaves you fascinated, and you keep staring and staring and staring. That perfect eyes, beautiful bindi, infectious laughter, what a muse. Can’t obviously put her name here since she might not approve, and me not asking. 😀 (seriously, from one artist to another, you would understand the fascination for faces, plain fascination, nothing more)

Impetus

Quite often we wake up to the same journey, but a new beginning,
Only to see hundreds already sweating from hours of running,
You just shrug and start walking, wondering why they can’t sleep,
And smile, because sometimes, imagination just can’t make the leap.

Well, one can’t rub away the flaws from a diamond,
Just as one can’t rub the lines from the palm of a hand,
When we refuse its brilliance, insisting it can be better,
We understand that rings can no longer be on any finger.

We believe that our life depends on every single mark,
And that without the grade, life will forever be dark,
We become so obsessed with that one mark we didn’t get,
That the ninety-nine we have become easy to forget.

Easy enough to forget, that life is more than a grade,
That marks are the easiest way for knowledge to degrade,
Obsession enough to forget, the true purpose of education,
That character marks the real end of education.

We know that education ends, but never learning,
Because knowledge is a quest that knows no ending,
It is a journey that fuels itself along the way,
Lighting up the path for the few who choose to stay.

The hundreds that run, with the thousands more that follow,
Realise not, that chasing education is like following their own shadow,
A benchmark they will never improve or grow beyond,
Because the hundred makes them grow too fond.

For those still running the race, from long before sunrise,
We can only hope they will someday wake up to realise,
That excellence cannot be measured by the precision of calculation,
Because, perfection is a journey, not a destination.

This one is for a new Beacon, Raj Kumar Hirani and his existential brand of cinema. Although this is a continuation of the story that began with Broken Pencil and Frontier, this one caters to a more mature audience. Adult students who can think and identify right from wrong.

I always wonder what it is, that unlike children who are goaded by parents into burying their childhood amidst pages and pages of drivel that kills their minds instead of expanding it, adult students have a mind of their own that can think. However, it might be the conditioning from childhood that carries over, and makes people fall head-over-heels in pursuit of centum.

I fail to understand why someone would think a guy who got 90% is worse than one who got 96%, or that a guy who got 35% in Chemistry should spend their life being a third-class engineer, when they got 95% in Physics and could have been rendering yeoman service to science. Why should the failures of one subject tie a person’s future, or for that matter, why should the less than perfect scores in most subjects make one person inferior to another.

But then, i guess that is what institutions across the world breed, mediocrity from talent, and show the real talent the long path home to where it belongs. More on this on my upcoming posts on the IIMs’ and IITs’. Fanboys of these institutions should stay away because it will not be pleasant, and believe me, it is not a case of sour grapes. It is just a honest feeling from a leftist-leaning dreamer.

Runway 77

Every so often, you think, the power to choose is a birthright,
And so you set about, trying to separate the day from night,
Only to realise that, in order to appreciate the light,
You need to sometimes sacrifice your sight.

Every time you think you have closed the door on fear,
The footsteps of courage become too faint to hear,
Every time you stamp the last vestige of doubt,
Your certainty becomes too scared to shout.

You think you have succeeded in holding back the tear,
And strangely, the smile is still nowhere near,
The sorrow that you manage to keep out of the fortress,
Swims in the moat outside, along with happiness.

You think you have wiped away every stain of greed,
Only to find contentment no longer paying heed,
You think you have shown envy the door,
Only to find camaraderie speaking no more.

You think you have finally enslaved misunderstanding,
Only to find harmony chained beyond standing,
You think you have rope enough, for all thoughts to bind,
Only to find yourself no longer in control of the mind.

You know, standing before you, is the person you truly seek,
And yet, your pedigreed learning does not let you speak,
And as she leaves, you know it is your life walking away,
But pride prevents you from having things your way.

You see less capable people leaving you behind, on the ground,
And soon enough, you are the only one who is still around,
Standing on the runway, you wonder why life isn’t taking off,
Unaware, the things that keep us grounded, also prevent us from take-off.

This one takes the strike back to the Beacons again, this time for Jim Rohn and his beautiful saying. While the saying was the foundation of the poem, the bulk of it is my tribute to the movie ‘Girl in the Cafe‘ which is one of the most touching love stories i have seen, not to mention the empathy angle.

There are many times in life, when we feel life has left us behind, and the entire world has moved to the next paradigm, and you are still stuck in a time warp. What we fail to realise, is that the things we cherish to stay in warp, are the things that are keeping reality out.

We keep trying to reach one of the ends of the scale (depression/happiness) without realising the futility of our efforts. There is no such thing as the end of a scale. The ends only exist to give better meaning to the middle of the scale. We fail to realise that we weren’t born to be eternally happy, or eternally sad. That isn’t the real objective/purpose of anybody’s life. We were born to appreciate the balance that exists across nature and life in general.

We would never appreciate the day if we had never seen a single night. On the contrary, we would curse it, since that was all we would see all our lives. We wouldn’t appreciate white if we never set our eyes on black. We wouldn’t praise Rama/Krishna if Ravana/Kamsa were pushover pieces of cake. Their legends only grow as much as the legends of their opposition grow. If Ravana was a crippled guy in a wheelchair with both hands also gone like Sholay’s Thakur, then nobody would bother reading of the epic battle that took place Lanka, they would simply forward to the happily-ever-after ending.

Whether in stories or in real life, the extremes are glorified only to make living worth it, but somewhere along the way, people forgot the middle ground, and so balance went out of the window. So, even if theoretically someone did attain eternal happiness, they wouldn’t know it, because if you are forever standing in the sun, you wouldn’t know if it felt great/cool/rad simply because that was what you were/will be doing all your life, and so you never know how that compares since darkness is never a benchmark you have.

Here’s to the middle ground that everybody’s forgotten. The ground where people laugh together in happier times, and stick together in difficult times.

Crossroads

Every so often, we set out, to get somewhere in life,
Only to be taken for a ride, by this guide they call life,
Leaves me wondering, what is to take, and who is taken,
But make no mistake about it, because life is never mistaken.

At the beginning, every destination seems very clear,
But passing time reveals, a mirage is the only thing that’s near,
For foolishly trusting the senses, thirst is a steep price to pay,
And can only be quenched with eagerness out of the way.

I soon lose trust by forcibly walking with my need,
And lose more friends, by talking with my greed,
When I follow my mind, I even lose all respect,
From a slave of caution, what more can one expect.

I close every door and window leading to my heart,
But that only causes the remaining good to depart,
So temptation tells me, the highway and I must part,
Into the by-lanes that lure me and my destination apart.

Running in a hurry, I soon stumble over desperation,
And stand again, bruised and badly in need of inspiration,
And every single time that I come close to the end of the rope,
I have to steal a little from the truth, to give to hope.

All that I know suddenly seems a whole lot less,
When every extra mile is fuelled only by a guess,
I know not what lies in waiting, around the next bend,
For, every route I’ve taken, has led me to a dead end.

The farther I move away, the closer I get to the start,
For, all the roads in life depart, and converge, at the heart,
Among all these crossroads, the smile is the only shortcut I can take,
The distance is the same, but every footstep a pleasure it does make.

Back to the Beacons after some mirror breaks. This time Aparna does it, by leading me back to the beginning, back to the roots. Often, we lose track of what we set out to achieve, and most often it is because we lost heart in the objective, or because we no longer find the happiness that the path promised.

Most often such paths reveal the hidden happiness only after we get there. But sadly, most of us lose heart and get sidetracked, long before the destination is near. The only option is to take some of that ‘Getafix’ magic potion to drink along the way to keep us enthused and motivated towards the destination. That ‘Getafix’ potion is inner-happiness, so you know where she fits in. 🙂

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