Isthmus

The things that keep us together, are the ones keeping us apart,
And the things keeping us apart, are the strings tying each other’s heart,
Even two rooms with a common wall, are separated by a door,
When opened, it shows, they are actually joined by the same floor.

We were proud, about having the same view, sharing the same thought,
And gloat about how similarity has made sure that we never fought,
Only to realise, the reason we had only one view, only one window,
And this ensured, there was only direction the wind could blow.

We were happy, that the words we both spoke, were all the same,
And exulted at how either of us could for each other proclaim,
Only to realise, the reason neither of us, was ever able to exclaim,
Was because, we knew every word, before it came, or became.

We were excited, that what I thought, what you said, we did,
And cheered that all we needed between us, was a single eyelid,
Only to realise, why none of us knew, any more than we saw,
So concerned with seeing the same, neither of us noticed the flaw.

We were heartened, that we knew so much, about each other’s happiness,
And boasted it was all that was needed to flood any outpouring of our sadness,
Only to realise, each of us had our own individual wars to be battled,
And even common emotions weren’t enough, to keep the differences bottled.

We were sure, we could hear the anxiety, in each other’s heart beat,
And believed we could even walk the exact same path, feet in feet,
Only to realise, all we could hear was a single repetitive sound,
Even a multitude of harmonies, couldn’t pry our ears unbound.

The more we are together, the lesser we actually merge,
Because we change each other, until neither is left to emerge,
Love is not the dream, that our every similarity seems to consist,
It is the reality, that we can be different, and still together exist.

This one is inspired by the works of my teacher/Beacon, Sirivennela. The very very very evocative piece ‘Yedho Yedho’ from Sasirekha Parinayam struck a raw nerve, causing the words in my mind to unsettle into the arrangement that this poem is. His song presents the case for the apprehensions a girl faces when having to face the prospect of living with a stranger. Everyone she knows, promises that its for the best, there’s nothing to fear. But the heart knows what only it can know, feels what only it can feel. How do you know if someone you need to allow into your life, your heart, your thoughts, will let you into theirs, or will even let you have yours once, they are in it.

There’s no way you can know, except to make the leap. We spend so much of our lives, changing our lives to match those that we love, to please those that we love, or influencing them to change their lives, to suit or thoughts, to match our feelings, that we fail to notice, we are changing the diversity of humanity on its head, and creating more and more clones of ourselves, trying to remove those things that make everyone distinct, and asking them to pour their souls, into moulds of ourself that we have created. We have this need to see reflections of ourselves wherever we look. We want those that love us, to look like us, think like us, feel like us. So much so, that when they finally do so, there is only one person left on the earth, ourself. The rest are just poor imitations we have created to feel surrounded by ourself.

Everytime we do something that causes someone to change, change to conform to our preferences, our expectations, we are creating poor duplicates of ourselves. Unfortunately, while that is somewhat less apparent, what is not apparent at all, is that when we look at these duplicates, we are looking at reflections of ourselves. And reflections are just that, exact copies, but facing the opposite direction. So the more they seem to be converging into our path, the more they are actually diverging. A line that seems to be colliding into the mirror, is actually running away from it.

To sum up, stop trying to find someone who is your type. Someone who likes what you like, who eats what you eat, who speaks like you speak, who thinks like you think, and who sees how you see. There is no one like that. If God had wanted it that way, he would have given you a xerox machine with human blanks. So even when you happen to find someone, anyone, who is close to, similar to what you expect, stop trying to mould them into a braindead transmitter of your thoughts, feelings, and words. If you really love someone, stop trying to manipulate them into becoming something for you, and if you love yourself, stop trying to mould yourself into someone else, because the person in love with you, or the person you want to love you, wouldn’t want to love someone else, they love/want to love you. If they don’t then, they are in the replicator business, and you should run as far away from them as possible.

The idea being that, you do not need to be similar to mix, and you do not need to mix, to be together. Every one can be their own self, and be a part of a together bond. Hydrogen burns, and so does oxygen. They can also not burn, as water. And yet burn when split up. The idea of love is to create, not destroy. The purpose is to make a new bond with its own characteristics without wiping out the existence, characteristics of its constituents. The idea is to create water that is distinct, without making hydrogen or oxygen non-flammable, and without changing the fundamental properties and structure of either element.

Pollyanna

When you are faced with odds of insurmountable strength,
It is all right, to not see the mission through to its full length,
Will you forgo the applause, just to pull down the curtain,
Or push forward until the goal is yesterday’s burden?

When your life’s only dream is shattered and buried,
It is expected, to just give up the desire to succeed,
Will you stand, with your head staring down at the rubble,
Or pick up a shovel and continue with the struggle?

When your own people strike trust a heavy blow,
It is naturally easy, to let the pent up tears flow,
Will you languish, in your lament till the eyes run dry,
Or will you wipe the tears away before they see you cry?

When words with friends get ugly and all are flared,
It is understandable, to show each other you are scared,
Will you run, leaving everyone angry and afraid,
Or stand to show them they too can remain unswayed?

When nothing you try, is going according to plan,
It is wise, to retreat and retrace the path you just ran,
Will you try, desperately to find events you can rewind,
Or prove there is nothing about the future that you mind?

When your love decides to put up with you no more,
It is obvious, to find that every solace has a closed door,
Will you allow, the hope and faith to gracefully depart,
Or persevere until they dejectedly return to your heart?

When you are asked to give up the beliefs that make your self,
It is necessary, to put your ideology back on its shelf,
Will you distance, yourself from your life and character,
Or draw them closer until your blood is imprinted on every letter?

This one is for the Gazebo, since it looks at a world that could have been. It continues from where Godse left off. The fundamental premise is that Gandhism is no longer a term anybody recognises or understands. While Godse (the poem) contends that this is due to all of us, Pollyanna dwells upon the roots of that demise. Gandhism, was killed not by anyone born decades later, or by errant invididuals, it was killed by Gandhi himself. Now, it would seem moronic to suggest such a thing and attribute the death of a movement to its founder, and an icon no less. But just read through the rest of the stuff, and decide for yourself.

The whole foundation of the non-violent, show you the other cheek, when you slap me, movement has been built around the principle of being true to your beliefs and winning the other person over through the strength of your conviction in your beliefs, and what you are willing to endure, to see them through. This was the reason, instead of assembling a  bunch of rag-tag commandos, Gandhi chose to simply wait out the Britishers, and make them feel ashamed of being extortionate occupiers, and run away sweating with the shame of having exploited and enslaved such a noble race as the Indians. Would have been made for a fantastic movie script, if it had worked that way.

Unfortunately, what actually drove the Brits back, wasn’t a bunch of topless voluntarily-handicapped Salman Khan protestors. Instead, it was a combination of things ranging from the formation of the United Nations, growing global disdain on the enslaving of colonies, growing dissent and unrest within the colonies, necessity to rebuild their own war-torn homeland that was in a political upheaval, and so on. The Brits definitely did not run with their tails between their legs, just by seeing millions of people eagerly waiting for them to feel ashamed of themselves, and hoping they would just wake up one morning and vacate because they grew tired of doing the wrong thing, and Jesus had appeared in their Queen’s dream and told her ‘treat thy neighbour as thyself’. What a story of miraculous transformation.

But my story doesn’t quite end there. I searched and read up as much as I could, and in my limited exposure to literature, I couldn’t find a single reference to Gandhi condemning the Indian Army and calling for its disbandment. I have heard hearsay stories that Gandhi called for the abolishment of the Congress Party post-Independence, though I haven’t seen any written word to that effect. So, it would seem absurd to you, that I would expect Gandhi to get rid of the Indian army. What possible connection could the Indian army have to do with anti-Gandhism?

The answer can be understood through a simple analogy. Let us say you are Gandhi, and you have a house, one your ancestors were born and lived in. One fine day, a guy walks in, (lets call him Occupier) and at gunpoint kicks you out of your house, and stays in it. Apart from kicking you out, he also makes you do all of his household chores. Normally, you would have kicked such a person in the teeth and told him to bugger-off. But then, you are Gandhi, so what do you do. You ask Occupier to leave, and when he doesn’t and slaps you around, you cry, and refuse to do any more household chores, dare him to lock you in the closet, and wait for God to work upon Occupier. The whole idea being, that Occupier would see you in the closet, everytime he reached for his trenchcoat, and after seeing you in the closet for hundreds of times, be so overcome and wracked with guilt, that he would recognise the scorn in your eyes, the pity in your words, the sorrow in your heart, the freedom in your mind, and be overwhelmed by all these emotions, that he would run out of the house.

So far, so good, mission accomplished. Only there is a small hitch. Now that the house is yours again, you then assign a few of your family members to stand outside and prevent any more relatives of Occupier from ever getting in again, and you instruct them to do so by any means necessary, event if that means at gunpoint, or by bullet wound. Here is where the anachronism comes in. You seem to be willing to abhor violence for the purpose of getting your house back, but will not hesitate to resort to violence to ensure the house stays under your control. Now, I don’t know what that makes you, but I would generally term it as hypocrisy. The fact that Gandhi did not talk about the existence of, his like/dislike for, the Indian army, itself speaks volumes about the kind of freedom we purport to have ‘won’.

Please bear in mind, I am not questioning the necessity/purpose of the Indian armed force. Why would I? I am not a Gandhian. All I am saying is that all those followers of Gandhi, or should I say, pseudo-Gandhians like Nehru who were supposedly Gandhian, but gave orders to the Indian armed forces and instead appreciated the role played by the army post-Independence (while pretending to be non-violent people) are the ones who killed Gandhism. So that would make Gandhi the first pseudo-Gandhian, who began the events that killed Gandhism. Godse only shot at Gandhi’s body. Gandhi killed himself when he didn’t live up to his own beliefs.

Of course, let me sum up by saying, I am a nobody to be raking up mud on historical figures of national importance, and I guess there is some statute that prevents anyone from maligning the gloried name of the Father of our Nation. But then, enforcing people’s thoughts, through a statute, is the same Fascist crap that Hitler and Mussolini dished out, and the same crap that allows contempt-of-court to be (ab)used whenever someone questions a court verdict, or that boorish partymen tactics, when they forcibly destroy property of businessmen who dare to do business on a day when their party has proclaimed a strike, and expect people to show solidarity for their movement, by beating them into it, like those Telangana Fascists. So enough said already.

Tunnel

There are those that trust light, because it has a beginning,
And others still who fear it not, because it has an ending,
But darkness is another matter, for, it begins nowhere,
And even in the midst of light, is always forever there.

It is difficult to understand something, that’s made up of nothing,
And yet, is pervasive enough, to be within everything,
Darkness is the envelope, that helps define every beam of light,
And still can be seen by everyone, specially those without sight.

It is the womb from which all light is born,
And is the grave for all visions that are stillborn,
It is the medium that connects one light to another,
And is the canvas on which one colour differs from the other.

Darkness is not a journey, since it cannot ever begin,
It is the path on which all light created travels within,
It is the black imprint that every footstep of light leaves,
It is the web that captures every illusion that light weaves.

It appears to expand and contract with every change in a shadow,
But what really changes, is the light, from broad to narrow,
Darkness has no size, no speed, because it doesn’t need to move,
It is the encompassive stage, on which light has a point to prove.

In many ways, the only truth there is, is the darkness,
Because it stays the same in both shade and brightness,
It has no colours, no shades, for, those are the offspring of light,
The only progeny of darkness, is the transient permanence of night.

While everyone views a tunnel as the conduit for darkness,
Few realise, that it is the last harbour for nothingness,
Black does not flow, like light through a funnel,
Because there is always darkness, at either end of a tunnel.

This one is for the Beacons, dedicated as it is, to Sirivennela Seetharama Shastry. It is based on his line from one of the greatest Telugu film songs of all time. http://manoharamu.blogspot.in/2007/09/sindooram-ardha-satabdapu.html The line goes like this: 

అన్యాయాన్ని సహించని శౌర్యం దౌర్జన్యాన్ని దహించే ధైర్యం

కారడవుల్లో క్రూరమృగంలా దాక్కుని ఉండాలా వెలుగుని తప్పుకు తిరగాలా

This one is about an all-pervasive omnipresent phenomenon called darkness. It carries on from what began as a dialogue with brother Satyajit (in Into Your Life and Shadows). The beautiful thing about darkness, is that people refuse to give it the credit it deserves. It is perfectly human, that people who wage battles since the beginning of civilization over land, while water covers over 75% of the planet, would try to portray their God as being limited to the light.

I have no problems with the light, except that it is a minority in the grand scheme of things. In the universe, as well as in galaxies, stars (sources of light), are tiny specks of white against an infinite black. So to call their God as the light (“I am the light”, “Dispeller of darkness”, etc.) is absurd because it excludes the fact that God is also darkness. In effect, they end up calling their God as ‘Dispeller of God’. All I am saying is that Darkness is God. So to associate darkness as being the freehold property/playground of some Satan, is to say that God is the property of Satan. Fundamentally, if God is everything, then God is Satan. That brings us to this zero-sum game of “God is the light” and “God is the darkness”. So white=black.

But that is merely, the premise upon which the poem is built. Being an abstraction, the core idea, is more around minorities, and how they are glorified at the expense of the majority (think land vs sea, light vs darkness). So in a society, that globally and locally portends to have a constitution that says all citizens are equal, except that the minorities are more equal, there is something seriously flawed with the checks and balances by which we govern ourselves. I fail to understand how punishing the son for the sins of the father qualifies as social justice, unless an eye-for-a sons-eye-by-my-son is the accepted norm of social justice. The constitution allows discrimination on the basis of caste/creed/religion/gender as long as it is for-the-benefit of some minority. Now unless I have my understanding all soaked in hogwash, nothing can be of benefit to one party without being unbeneficial/harmful to another. You cannot discriminate for-the-benefit of a minority without it being to-the-detriment of a majority in a mixed population organization, be it an educational institution, or a workplace. You cannot be pro-women without being anti-men. You cannot be pro-SC/ST without being anti-FC/OC in an organization that caters to both sections. The only for-the-benefit discrimination that is partially  neutral, is a minority-exclusive organization. In any other context, it is tantamount to punishing the descendant of one community, for-benefit-of the descendants of another community, whose ancestors bore the exploitation of the ancestors of the other community. We live in weird times, when a document that allows this is our constitution.

As long as charters of such inequality are the founding papers of a country, there is a bleak future for social justice. The cycle never ends and has been proven to be a law of nature that is self-correcting. A few lions terrorize a few hundred deer. So to restore order, man decides to shoot the lions. Now the over-shot lions, become an endangered species, while the population of deer grows out of control. So man launches a “Save the lion campaign”, and shoots off the excess deer, to restore balance. By which time, the lions grow too many, and the deer becomes an endangered species, due to too many lions, and too few deer. The same is the case with the minority/majority equation with the constitution/law playing the role of the gamekeeper, shooting each side as it grows out of control.

Highway to Pandora

I was hitchhiking my way, when the samaritan came along,
I smiled at him, seeing no harm in walking as a throng,
Only on seeing lonely wayfarers dying, did the thought finally occur,
On how every fellow traveller was company enough to provide succour.

The samaritan taught me not, to invite everyone into my tent,
He showed me how lending a blanket, was kindness well spent,
I saw the samaritan give his own quilt to put a shivering soul at rest,
The warmth on his own shivering face, emanated from the joy of the quest.

While I held my bread close, praying it would last me to the destination,
He freely gave his around, hoping to save atleast one from starvation,
The more I carried for myself, the harder it was to move forward,
While he proved the more he shared, the lighter was his path onward.

While I paused every now and then, to reconfirm my footsteps with my map,
He used the time to talk a fallen brother out of their misguided mishap,
Every story I heard, of tragedies unravelled through his conversation,
Taught me how little I knew of others, perhaps, my greatest limitation.

Why he tried giving more than he had, I never could surmise,
Until the moment he revealed, the unseen rewards of sacrifice,
That when you go out of your way, because the needy need you to serve,
You’ll be surprised, at how many come forward, to give you what you deserve.

It was only when he showed me the true spirit of celebrating failure,
I came to realise, that success all the while, had this over-glorified allure,
I realised, that alone, every step I took, was too indistinguishable to remark,
But together, every stop we made, was our journey’s next landmark.

He knew that I could feel hurt, because of my inability to forgive,
So I came to believe, only mercy and compassion I could forever give,
The highway to Pandora taught me, that my only enemy was a fellow traveller’s fall,
And I would recognise and reach no heaven, without realising that love is all.

This one is a Gazebo piece about the journey called life and its purpose. Sometimes we are fortunate enough, to have transportation, and other times we have to walk along with everyone else. What matters, is that we help others reach the destination. That in itself is the true destination for those who know it.

Maudlin

Sometimes, however angry at you, the world might seem,
You need to understand, it is just a way of letting off steam,
Although snapping back might relieve the pressure causing the flow,
You might agree, that it is easier to instead defuse it with a guffaw.

Other times when people seem to just run out of patience,
You need to understand, they’re just weary from having no options,
Given that impatience is not the simplest quarry to head-on tackle,
You might be surprised, that it can easily be disarmed with a cackle.

Often when the world seems to be drowning in its own sorrow,
You need to understand, it’s because they don’t believe in tomorrow,
While it may seem simpler to just cut the moroseness in half,
You might not believe, that it can instead be denied with a laugh.

When people grow tired of keeping up with every struggle and travail,
You need to understand, they are merely hoping for respite to prevail,
However rational it might feel to choke it without room to wriggle,
You might be unaware, that it is more fun to disable it with a giggle.

There are times when things are grim enough to be labelled bleak,
You need to understand, this is courage not encouraged enough to speak,
Despite knowing you can disperse the depression, by spreading it thin,
You might concur, that it can instead be disfigured with just a grin.

Most days, when people abuse you, in an effort to apparently redeem,
You need to understand, they unconsciously suffer from low self-esteem,
Assured though you are, that reciprocation will force it to buckle,
You might already know, that it can be dismantled with a chuckle.

You wonder why the world doesn’t acknowledge life in its every breath,
You need to understand, it is too preoccupied running away from death,
Cliched though it may sound, that this keeps happening all the while,
You already believe, every battle in life, can be fought with a smile.

This one is dedicated to a Beacon called the HBO movie Wit. It merely summarizes the essence of the movie, a zest for life. One that is only recognized by those who appreciate how little they have left of it.

Jettison

I doggedly refused to believe it was a case of stress,
Had I not held my own, and triumphed under extreme duress?
Or that my pent up anxiety was desperately awaiting a release,
Blissfully unaware, I let these keep dragging down my knees.

Why did everybody think I couldn’t get over the fear,
Always being followed by shadows too uncomfortably near,
I cannot hold my breath for every moment uncertainty teasingly reveals,
Ignorantly unsure, I let the suspense keep on pricking at my heels.

I never knew I was even remotely capable of hatred,
Until the time when myself I had gradually come to dread,
Unable to hold my distaste back, every time I hear someone praised,
Voluntarily unhappy, I let the discontent hang around my waist.

You don’t even need to look into my eyes, to see the disbelief,
The lesser you talk to me, you can see my relief, etched in relief,
Because, opening my mouth reveals, that lies are something I never lack,
Hopelessly untruthful, I let the glibness continue straining my back.

While I stay busy, cowering alone, before my own cowardice,
I fail to understand, why courage seems to need no accomplice,
Defeatist enough to let my anger burn me from getting wisely older,
Thoughtfully unclear, I see the fury keeps dragging down my shoulder.

I vividly remember, every time I stretched my arms in helplessness,
And how stubbornly folded they were, to congratulate another’s happiness,
When my apathy prevents me from helping a fallen friend to stand,
Painfully callous, I realise not what is really holding back my hand.

I know from every expression, why I cannot wash away the shame,
And how uncontrollably guilty I feel upon just hearing my name,
I only hope, before this emotional baggage can talk me dead,
I can let go of them, one by one, if only to once again raise my head.

This Mirror one is about the baggage we all carry, and how we drown in the sea of life everyday because we refuse to throw some/all of it overboard. Sometimes, the only way to stay afloat, is to get rid of excess baggage, and that’s where this jettison comes in.

Forgotten

I’ve spent so much of my daily life glaring,
That my mirror has forgotten, how they looked, welcoming,
I’ve seen so little of my own eyes, sparkling with delight,
That I have long forgotten the true purpose of sight.

I’ve spent so much time piling abuse upon denigration,
That my mouth has forgotten a word like consolation,
I’ve spoken so little, to support those that plead and beseech,
That I have long forgotten the true purpose of speech.

I’ve heard for so long, cries of suffering and desperation,
That my ears have forgotten, the sound of music and inspiration,
I’ve heeded so little to the pleas of the truly deserving,
That I have long forgotten the true purpose of hearing.

I’ve swallowed for so long, the bitter humble pie of failure,
That my tongue has forgotten, if success is also a famine to endure,
I’ve tasted so little achievement, even in stark distaste,
That I have long forgotten the true purpose of taste.

I’ve been stinking so long, from the stench of distrust,
That my nose has forgotten, the aroma called trust,
I’ve believed for so long, about living in hell,
That I have long forgotten the true purpose of smell.

I’ve used up a lifetime, following the footsteps of hatred,
That my heart has forgotten, the path love had once tread,
I’ve ignored for so long, the urge for compassion and sharing,
That I have long forgotten the true purpose of feeling.

I’ve thought for long, that helplessness is the only state I could understand,
That my entire being has forgotten, the meaning of a helping hand,
I’ve wasted so long, questioning others belief in religion and divinity,
That I have long forgotten the existence of my own humanity.

A simple one for Mirror, inspired again by the movie Vedam, specifically the song Malli Puttaniyi.

%d bloggers like this: