Confession

I still don’t want to believe it has already been ten years,
Maybe because it is so much easier to recount the tears,
The days, months, years just dissolved, I gave time no value,
Thinking, why would I need a watch, when I already have you.

Days when we spent, arguing about each other’s beliefs,
And evenings we went, walking the path of fallen leaves,
You laughed it off, when I said every memory was a fallen leaf,
And a brand new belief is born, from the stalk of every grief.

Times when we spent, just looking down at the road,
And places we went, turning around at every crossroad,
You shrugged it off, when I said every experience was a blade of grass,
And we could sit on it, or just trample it while walking along the pass.

Moments when we spent, wondering if it was the last stop,
And glances we sent, guessing who would let it all drop,
You winked it off, pretending we weren’t there to begin,
If only you could see how much the silence burnt within.

Lifetimes we spent, wishing there was a way this could all revert,
And feelings we meant, to express without the other getting hurt,
You wiped it off, saying the tears were a sign, I was too late,
But what could I do, having always presumed, our life was the date.

You told me, the man of your dreams, was sitting on that bench,
I nod and look over, and you fail to see my hands weakly clench,
Seeing the sparkle in you eyes betray your feelings, for the one front of you,
I wonder if being beside you could have been different, if only you knew.

I know everytime you smile now, is only to force me to do the same,
And I comply, knowing there’s nobody, not even myself to blame,
A smile that was lost, not because its love had no expression,
But because we shared a bond, that asked for no confession.

This one is also dedicated and inspired by my teacher/Beacon, Sirivennela. This one was sparked off by his song Ye Chota Vunna from Nuvve Nuvve. Everything from the verse structure, to the analogies, to the theme progression, oozes a heart-wrenching experience. This poem is about a life that could have been, a road that might have been. When two friends share a lifetime, and then one falls for the other, things change beyond just a relationship. Is it worth risking the friendship for the sake of love, will that love even pan out, will it prove worthy of the sacrifice, or will it be a pale shadow of friendship, does one need to be sacrificed to get the other, can both of them never co-exist, what if you lose both the love and friendship? This poem lightly touches upon all of these and more.

What happens when love becomes your friend, just when your friend falls in love? Is it love, when you let it go away hoping it will wash over your friend with your friendship? Is it friendship, when you want whatever is the best for your friend’s love? Is friendship lovely, or is love friendly? When the pain of unrequited love stings you for your friend, would you wince out of love or friendship? There are some questions to which we cannot live without knowing the answer to, and other questions that we would die to not know the answer to.

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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.

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.

I Do

The eyes are moist, but I know they do not for anything weep,
Just that, imprinted images are the hardest memories to keep,
You let them flow away believing there will be something new,
But there isn’t anything new, you know, as well as I do.

There were other times, when the tears and their sorrow were true,
And you thought the black clouds had forever changed the sky’s blue,
You thought these feelings were premonitions of what you knew,
But there isn’t any thought, you feel, as well as I do.

You speak not of the times, when you compulsively broke into a cheer,
And you said you acted so impulsively only because of someone dear,
You agreed that the happiness wasn’t worth getting used to,
But there isn’t any joy, you show, as well as I do.

Your lips turned dry, hearing no words at all from the throat,
And you understood the difficulty of keeping emotions afloat,
You realized that words weren’t worth any looking into,
But there isn’t any emotion, you speak, as well as I do.

Your mind turned blank, unsure if your being was ignored,
And you discovered, there is so much to life still unexplored,
You felt the world did have many obligations overdue,
But there isn’t any debt, you bear, as well as I do.

Your heart was torn, sliced slowly by pangs of separation,
And you wince, because there’s no more chance for reparation,
You find that people stick close when pain is the glue,
But there isn’t any hurt, you share, as well as I do.

There isn’t anything, you do as well, because I do it all for you,
I take whatever you do, add my soul, and give it back to you,
So every time you feel your life has no purpose, no clue,
And yet no one cares a damn , just remember, I do.

This one is for the Mirror, and is inspired by you-know-who. It started off as a study on rationality and branched out into an abstract expression of irrationality. What is rational? Acting in the greatest self-interest of ourselves, that is how logic would define rationality. So by that definition, civilization itself is an exercise in irrationality. Let’s see why.

By logic, survival is the most basic and only native instinct of any being. So when man began farming, he was using food that he would have eaten back into the soil, to get more of it. In other words, he was giving up what was essential for his survival, to ensure his future survival was insured. That first act of irrationality sowed the seeds for all related future acts. Now that he did not need to spend every day worrying if he would last the day, his focus turned onto what he could do while he waited for his future food to grow, leisure. Leisure, isn’t something unique to humans, squirrels hoard, ants store, bees colonize, bears hibernate off their fat. Leisure allowed to explore his finer side a.k.a the arts. The arts is what allowed civilization to really develop, since builders tried to build more better buildings, farmers tried to develop better crops, writers/composers tried to design better entertainment. But everything he did, he did to enhance his own standing in the scheme of things. That distinguishable portion of the individual came to be called identity.

So when it comes to things irrational, there is none more irrational than love. Given that self-preservation is a given, it would be audacious and atrocious to suggest that someone would want to give up part/whole of themselves for the sake of someone else. A further extension of this, is the concept of courage, which throws off the yoke of self-preservation often for strangers, quite unlike love. When someone is in love, they are willing to kill a part of their own existence and even identity to please someone else. This act of irrationality is what makes us human, because animals don’t behave so irrationally as we do (there is love aplenty among them, but almost never courage).

So what could be more irrational than love and courage? The courage to love, of course. Since we humans call any excessive irrationality as madness, here’s to all those crazies among us (since love is merely extreme irrationality).

Spaces

The day when you thought we were seeing too much of each other,
And had thus gotten too familiar and bored with one another,
You suggested that we maintain some distance and create space,
And try to see if we could appreciate something other than each other’s face.

So we walked away, afar, each to our own way,
Not sure what we would feel,  on waking up the next day,
It was a chance, you said, a test to see how far the mind would stray,
But try as much as we did, our minds simply refused to obey.

I walk into the restaurant, and see you empty chair,
You pick up the comb, and remember my ruffled hair,
I close my eyes, and see you returning the stare,
You open the door, to believe I am not there.

I walk away, only to notice, the footprints are a pair less,
You evade a reply, and recall what I would never confess,
Writing a letter, I recollect, that you had all the words,
Awaiting the train, you observe, the tree has no lonely birds.

We thought, letting go of the thought, was simply wishing it off the mind,
Unfortunately, just by closing their eyes, people do not turn blind,
And so we stand, separated, by thousands of miles in distance,
Yet, united, beyond choice, by our mind’s dogged resistance.

There’s still something between us, the farther each one departs,
Because love is the only distance between any two hearts,
So, that which separates is merely the glue upon our heart,
Holding us together, just as much close, as apart.

Space is not a measure of how far, it’s a measure of how close we are,
Look up at the sky, there’s only a centimetre gap, between star and star,
And if you still can’t believe, just walk away, and follow your own heart,
Because then I can be sure, you will unknowingly be following my heart.

This one is for the Gazebo. It was inspired from multiple sources, but mostly from a dear friend horribly crooning Atif Aslam’s Doorie.

Godse

It might only take a man to kill another man,
But sometimes, it takes a nation to kill the beliefs of a man,
For, no man is truly dead, until his every belief is,
Because, that is when nothing can exist to be called his.

So, you would think, what of a belief, that lit a billion lives,
How many generations, before such a belief no longer lives,
You would be surprised, that it is easier than killing a dream,
After all, most beliefs often age into a forgotten dream.

To kill a dream, you have to let go, the effort of remembering it,
To kill a belief, you only have to act, like you ignore it,
Once enough people ignore it, beliefs transform into dreams,
And even memorable dreams trickle down our memory streams.

So it was, the man came to be killed, a trillion times over,
And the man rolls in his grave, knowing this is far from over,
Every day, every minute, somebody is busy killing him,
So busy, they don’t even notice the death, or him.

Every time we slap a person, we sweetly butcher him,
Every time we abuse a person, we silently murder him,
Every time we hate someone, we lovingly stab him,
Every thought that hurts someone, we gleefully behead him.

it takes more than one man and bullet, to kill a legend,
And destiny has very creative ideas, about heralding the end,
It makes you believe, that no man can outlive his message,
And that the message died a long time before your age.

Although someone else physically pulled the trigger,
All said and done, each one of us is equally the killer,
We kill every day, through thought, through word, and action,
Let it be known and understood, this man was killed by a nation.

This one is for the Gazebo. It is mostly self-explanatory and deals with how people can kill a dead man a million times over. It has two inspirations, both of which can be traced to one person, Ram Gopal Varma. The first is from Jeeva’s dialogues in Sarkar that go something like “Sarkar ek aadmi nahi, ek soch hai. Aur aadmi ko maarne ke pehle, soch ko maarna hai.” This perfectly summarises what Gandhi is to this nation, he wasn’t just a man, he was a set of beliefs. Ones on which this country was supposedly founded. i say supposedly, because i hate to believe that the foundations of a nation could have gotten so easily eroded.

The second is from a title of his article for Eenadu on fascism titled “The ideas that killed a million people.” A very catchy headline you would agree, which is why it got me thinking of the reverse. The result is this poem, about “the million people that killed an idea.”

P.S.

I personally do not subscribe to Gandhian philosophies and am not a pacifist. Although i am not war-hungry, there are circumstances when war is necessary. Specially when somebody takes first offence against you. By the way, to play around with one of his famous quotes, an eye for an eye, does not make the whole world blind, it only makes the whole world half-blind. This poem is merely an effort to document the erosion of a philosophy that a nation was built on, one that is concretized on currency notes, shit-ridden statues in every city and town, and on the walls of every non-functional public office. It does not mean i believe in the philosophy. (so that doesn’t make me a murderer!!!!!!!!!!)

Fred Claus

The little boy was more confused than ever before,
Surely a festival must mean something more,
What his grandpa said, seemed to make little sense,
It seemed like something badly conjured up in defence.

So he went back to nagging the exasperated old man,
On this eccentricity that was celebrated only by man,
But this time, he decided he would do all the talk,
He only hoped, the old man wouldn’t fall back in shock.

“Why is it, that people spend the year, yelling at each other”,
“And finally choose a day to treat one other like a brother?”,
“Why is it, that people put up with a year full of abuse”,
“And take comfort in having a day, to praise each other profuse?”.

“Why do they live every moment for themselves, without relent”,
“Thinking one day is enough, to chant a prayer and repent?”,
“Why do they spend a year, closing the door on their neighbour”,
“Knowing they can invite them in, just in time for any dinner?”.

“Why do they shout at their crying parents, every single day”,
“Hoping, that decorating a tree together, will make those words go away?”,
“Why do they teach their children, to run the entire year in a hurry”,
“Wishing, that opening some gift, would wipe away every worry?”.

“Why do they think, a single sorry can soothe a year full of hurt”,
“Believing, that lighting a candle, is enough recognition of effort?”,
The old man was too puzzled, to notice the boy short of breath,
And only let out a sigh, because the boy regained his breath.

“Why can’t they just be nice, every day of the year”,
“And try to prevent, instead of wiping each tear?”,
“Why can’t they cherish every moment along the way”,
“Instead of dying the whole year, to live for just one day?”.

This one is obviously for the Mirror, since it is a continuation of Rudolf. This one reflects my actual views on festivals/celebration. So lets move on to the usual questions.

a) What’s with the title?
The title is from a movie of the same name, about Santa’s brother, who goes to the North Pole and saves the day for Santa and the entire world.

b) Why two poems?
The concept is too strong to finish within one poem without diminishing all of its essence into shortened sentences. The poem could have been double my usual length, but that would deny supporters of the festival with a poem. So splitting keeps both parties happy. Those who like festivals can read the first, and those who don’t can read only the second one. Besides, while the first one seems in support of celebration, it is actually a sly representation of the views that are debated in the second one. It helps to glorify the adversary in order to magnify the victory.

c) What is it about festivals/celebration that pisses me off?
The very words and what they signify. Take for example some thing like birthdays, which celebrate nothing significant. You being born is merely a statistical event that is by itself insignificant. But Happy Birthday is a festival of depression-era origins, when people needed some thing to make them feel alive atleast for one day, and bakers cashed in on the opportunity. Also read my favourite article on the topic.

It pains me to see that we fail to realise that most festivals are effectively celebrations of life and our thanks to our maker (whoever he/she is) for blessing us with whatever we have on that day. Knowing this fact about festivals, we fail to realise that celebrating them on that one day, makes us relive the Depression-days, by indirectly stating that there is only one day a year when we forcibly choose to be happy, even if we aren’t. Reminds me of one of my favourite sayings:
Perhaps this is why it is man alone who laughs: he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Why is it that we can’t simply celebrate each day of our lives, for its ups and downs. Why do we feel that only a cake completes celebration? Or that only decorating the house, completes a festival? Why do we have to shout at our parent/children every day and then make up with them for the sake of a festival? Why do we have to abuse our friends every day and then wish them a Happy Birthday? Is it not possible to be nice to everyone everyday?

Of course, some people are downright nasty and deserve a dose of their own medicine, right? If you feel like retorting to someone because they aren’t nice, then you’re allowing their worthlessness dictate to your politeness, which makes you no different from them. if you really want to see the difference, be polite and nice to everybody no matter what, and see the difference after maybe a year or a decade. Most often people aren’t nice to you on that day or that year, because nobody has been nice to them that day/year. Waiting for the other person to change is only going to ensure everyone does the same, and we are left with status quo.

If you really want to see a change in the world, be the one to lead it, rather than follow, since nobody else is going to lead. Try it today, throw a party to the person who has just slapped you, and see his/her reaction. Shake the hand of a person who has just abused you, and see their reaction. If not today, their reaction will change over time. Of course, initially everyone will look at you like a lunatic, but atleast its better to be a happy lunatic, than a depressed conformist. People treat those who stand out as lunatics because they are insecure about their own conformity. Once the tide slowly switches and you become the mainstream, they will look at their previous beliefs as lunacy, that’s people for you.

So, i hope you understand, why i care not even a damn for any festival, and why i am not reachable on my birthday. its time to end the practice of living for one day in a year, and start living every moment of life.

P.S.

The whole Rudolf carol is anti-celebration. Because the problem Rudolf is facing is being an outcast. So taking him away from the reindeer and making him a celebrity among humans, is like taking a cat rejected by other cats, and making him an exalted exhibit among dogs, and expecting the cat to be happy because of the miracle of the festive spirit. A true miracle would have been if the other reindeer had welcomed him into their fold because of the Christmas spirit, and not humans cheering him on.

I would like to end with a relevant line from ‘Sirivennela Sahityam’:
“Padhuguru soukhyam pondhe diname panduga kadha?”
“Is not the day, when a dozen people find solace and relief, a festival?”

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