Broken Pencil

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Fresh from nowhere, it came, baggage in hand,
All I could do was gape, just letting it stand,
Though invited, yet so unwelcome, it would never understand,
While every passing second was encroaching upon its land.

It looked me in the eye, but asked not for pity,
Only shelter for a while, in this now strange city,
Seems only yesterday, it had grown up in this lane,
And today’s sunrise was already mocking it again.

I let it in, harbouring the tiniest hint of a doubt,
And watched as it struggled finding its way about,
Seeing it stumbling around in its own home,
I wonder, all these days, where it did roam.

Relaxed and settled, it asks me what I want,
But this time, it is something even it can’t,
So I smile my best smile, and force myself to say “Nothing”,
If my wishes had wings, I really wouldn’t need anything.

But the tears are something that I still don’t remember,
For, asking it to leave, was the last I could remember,
Surprisingly, I had to be content with crying alone,
Because no one else would accept it as their own.

Out, on the road, it stood just simply staring at me,
Was it pity, sympathy, or merely anxiety for me,
I would never know, because I had to open the door again,
I couldn’t just live every night, imagining our common pain.

So, in, it came, waiting for me to kick it out again,
In this matter, there was nothing I could do to restrain,
Me, I have other things horrible to bear,
Atleast that is something, we both share.

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This one is dedicated to Amol Gupte and Aamir Khan for giving this country ‘Taare Zameen Par‘. For showing people what mattered more in life, specially in this country. This was something that had been troubling me right from my childhood, when I would open the paper in my 2nd Standard and read of students hanging themselves to death for not securing a particular rank, or for failing in a particular subject. Right from then I have been wondering what kind of environment produces such parents who put the fear of life or rather sow the germ of death into their children’s minds over a mere number, that might even if true, be merely an addition mistake of the clerk, a printing mistake of the press, or worser still, an irritated evaluator trying to put a value over a year or more worth of the child’s effort within 15 minutes.

Alas such a system should exist where that was all a child was worth, just another commodity. My cow gives 10 litres of milk, my car gives 14 kmpl mileage, my company gives 12 days casual leave annualy, my child gets 98.32% marks or better regularly. Indeed that is what children have finally been reduced to, pawns in a game of oneupmanship with their neighbours. How much did your child get in Maths, do you know how much my kid got in Geography? Is that all there is to a child’s life? Get up in the morning, go for early morning tutions, get ready for school, return from school, get ready and leave for more advanced tutions on the same subject again and again, until the very numbers and words appear as monsters in their dreams.

This poem is titled after a memory of my own childhood, wherein upto the 4th Standard we were supposed to use only pencils, and everyday before each session of classes began, the teachers used to sharpen the 40-odd pencils and put them in the pencil box, for us to collect as we entered the class after the morning prayer. We would all rush to get our hands on the pencils first, rather than the books. Probably because, the books were all the same, but the pencils weren’t. Some were sharper than the rest, some were longer than the rest. Everybody wanted the sharpest and longest pencil for themselves. Weren’t the rest of them also pencils, weren’t they equally useful if not immediately in the condition they were. We never knew then. Atleast I know now. A child’s life too has become like a pencil in that box, there is that constant competition that is created to be the tallest and sharpest among the rest. Unfortunately no parent or teacher seems to realise that the more you sharpen a pencil, the shorter it gets. Alas they seem to care not, that the length of the pencil is its very life, its childhood.

Although this poem was initially supposed to cover my heartlfelt feelings on the subject, something deep within stoppped me from putting everything down immediately, it was probably too much even for me to bear. So it turned out into a very very very abstract rendition of the fight every child has to fight between following his dreams, and being reluctantly awakened to their parents expectations of them, thus being forced to push the dream from their lives and fill it with words and numbers. But not for long, as these dreams continue to haunt them everyday, in the many forms of other children they see, other children that they hear about, other lives they only wish they could live. This one is also for all those dreams that have no voice.

So this poem should only be treated as the first in a series of installments on this topic that I will soon be bringing out. Hope that will soothe my anxiety to more human levels.

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Promise

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Many years ago, I made myself one,
Though initially I told it to no one,
It is one of those things that needs no telling,
They seized it, like an idea that needs no selling.

Only for a few decades, one lifetime, I had thought,
And yet I cannot even count the daily battles fought,
It seemed every victory was only an encouragement,
Every step ahead, another test in mind management.

People might say, forget it, they are just words,
They were never supposed to have an afterwards,
But a word once given, remains given forever,
Something I will never be able to deny, now or ever.

The clues, my lips may play around with, and converse,
But your name, it shall always remain hidden in this verse,
Many times, from the temptation, mind does almost cave,
But worry not, this is something, I’ll take to the grave.

You have never seen me, the way you know it is,
And we have never talked, the way it really is,
Perplexed, though you don’t, you know it but you don’t,
I am sorry, but in this matter, the secrecy is paramount.

We have never talked, I said, and so you never suspect,
And what puts you off the trail, is probably the respect,
With too many dead ends, you don’t know, whom to expect,
Which suits me all the more better, in fact just perfect.

But every secret has to die sometime,
So too will this one, after a lifetime,
But until then, there is something that you will never miss,
The story of the person, behind this unbreakable promise.

My first post in the new year. Though it might sound like gibberish to most of the readers, one of the ones that give me the most personal satisfaction in this new year. I feel like as if a considerable portion of the weight i have been carrying has been shifted to the blog’s shoulders.

This is another of the Mirror ones which is truly mirror in almost every sense. This is the closest i have ever come to telling my story. Though it had a more than a thousand chapter, one for each day, this was something that was like the overlapping theme connecting them all together bound by a promise.

It tells of the difference one single promise made to my life, and how nothing was the same again. It would have been simpler, people would say if the promise was broken, because then i might have got much more happiness than now. Alas such a happiness would never have lasted like this one does, and will keep doing for as long as i live. Even afterwards, the happiness will show through every line that i wrote about it.

Every so often, we all make promises, how many of them are ones that make us commit ourselves for a lifetime. And on how many of such promises do we maintain our commitment in the letter and spirit of the word given? We will never know the satisfaction of successfully maintaining our commitment on the ones that we do, but then, that’s where the actual pleasure in the whole game lies.

Being a winner without even being able to know it, receiving the reward without even existing to accept it. It makes every single temptation that we come across seem like the test of a lifetime, because that’s what they are, ones that try to break the determination of a lifetime. It also makes every single temptation we overcome like another little step towards our very own star trek, and mind you stars are never very near.

Daisybud

Swaying in consonance with an ebullient breeze,
She shakes off its advances, with a careworn ease,
Ruffling her petals, as she hung onto a slender stalk,
Proclaiming gustily that it isn’t only humans who stalk.

She stands up, and walks away free of the bond,
But she is no fugitive, to hide and abscond,
Walking away she is, from the grasps of human sight,
Away from those minds bereft of any genuine delight.

Walking away from those who interpret her like a question,
From those who wipe her out of every broken relation,
From those who treat her like an insane obsession,
And those who hoard her like a miserly possession.

Running away from those who suppress their affection,
From those who use her to disguise cunning defection,
From those who cannot see her, blinded by rejection,
And those who don’t want her, drowning in dejection.

They follow her, chase her, to the limits of perception,
They all need her, want her, to cover up their deception,
Without her, their greed, their envy and jealousy cannot live,
And for that reason, her life, they will not let her live.

So they strangle her life, and pluck her for the day,
Use her and discard her, to be trampled along the way,
She cannot remember a single one, who allowed her to stay,
For, she was always available, if only new, everyday.

Away she ran, before her fragrance they could steal,
And in the world, there were no more smiles to heal,
Hope is all that is left in this world of gloom,
A hope that she was not the last one to bloom.

Frightening. Thats the mildest way of putting what happened to me. I was struggling to write something on Aparna, just because I felt like it. Alas it was not be, as I struggled for 3 days sitting with an opened cap before an empty page with a title “Daisybud”. It seemed nothing would ever come out of it, and after all I might have finally written the most uncreative title in my life after all. Then it happened, today morning, I woke up early and tried to get back to sleep, and as a result found myself in a 3 hour dream involving who else but Aparna. After I woke up from three uninterrupted hours of looking at Aparna there was no looking back.

Aparna to me signifies a smile, a smile of laughter, of delight, of pure innocent joy, the kind that is long since missing from this world. So the dream was a kind of ‘wake-up’ call for me, to open my eyes and tell a story that was crying to be told.

Everyone nowadays sports a smile especially since ‘people-relationship’ got a flip through the endless number of personality grooming sessions that everyone seems to undergo. But how long was it since a person truly smiled out of the happiness of the heart rather than a hollow mechanical movement of the lips. When people smile to mask their seething discontent, their anger, their envy, their greed, their discomfiture. When they groan silently beneath those smiles, and curse and fault everything around and within them.When the smile becomes but an article, an accessory to the drama of fooling everyone around, it is then that a smile is powerless to do nothing but watch its state of deprivation into the depths that even a frown never knew.

I could have easily titled this one as ” Rape of a Smile” and got away with it, because nothing would have been more apt, but instead chose to call it after a flower because it signified the hope that I have on humanity that the situation will soon improve and that people would hopefully smile because of their unbridled inner joy, rather than social conditioning of what reaction to give to what situation. That is also the reason why the daisy featured at the beginning is just beginning to bloom, a symbol that everyone in the world still have their Aparna for another day.

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