Until Tomorrow

Ever since I learned to walk, I’ve always been on solid ground,
There’s always been land, land, and more land, everywhere I look around,
It is not an observation that most people like to call profound,
But look beneath those words, and you might see why it can astound.

For someone whose feet have always been conversant with the sand,
For someone whose decades brim reticent with memories from the land,
For someone with remnants of the earth forever on the palm of his hand,
It is blasphemous for his mind, to anything else consider or demand.

But the mind has never known firm ground, steeped in its own quagmire,
Washed ashore on the banks of temptation, flailing in the gusts of desire,
The gales of curiosity busy tearing it asunder,
The waves of trepidation drowning it down under.

I know this won’t tarry you from asking the obvious, why,
So let me tell you the reason I’ve decided to finally fly,
I’ve always been piqued by my dormant fascination for the sky,
Perhaps awakened by the flutter of the wings of time flapping by.

At a time when all the stars invite you to freely and openly pry,
You never pause to ponder, if leaving home will make you cry,
All that you know and feel, is that you have to atleast give it a try,
And besides, there’s always the promise of a wind, to blow your tears dry.

I know I can no longer rely on, or even land back on my feet,
But that has always been the only determined variable, between my dream and defeat,
All earth shrinks to a miniscule dot upon knowing the first moment of flight,
All that remains is the preponderance of not knowing yourself from the light.

But the best thing about flying, is that nobody can do it forever,
Flight is never complete, without a touchdown on land or river,
So lose those creased lines on the forehead, and the upturned brow,
Because even the biggest bird, must return to nest, today or tomorrow.

This one is for the Mirror. It covers my feelings on being employed, my constant satisfaction/discontentment with being so, and my flights of hope away from and into employment. It also barely touches upon the HR paradox that is a modern-day corporation. My employer doesn’t give me the hike I ask, so I leave to a competitor and get 100+30 as pay. Another employee at the competitor, asks for, doesn’t get the hike he wants, so he leaves and arrives at my employer and gets 100+30 as pay. It turns out to be a zero sum game. Me at new company with 130 pay, and new company employee at my company with 130 pay. We could both have continued at our previous companies had we got 130, and employee retention would be at its highest for both companies. Funny the way the world now works.

That apart, the wanderlust in me doesn’t like resting at any place for too long, especially when it is under someone else’s roof and dictum. The only place I ever had a choice and left was Accenture and that leave me with a lot of sentimental feelings than the other places, since I chose to leave, and not circumstances doing my choosing for me.

Is There

Not to throw, whatever we can against the wall,
Not to mouth, every profanity we can quickly recall,
Not to vent out, pent up frustration into the community,
Anger is there, to test our affinity for serenity.

Not to cover up, some thing as serious as infidelity,
Not to make up, for some thing as silly as timidity,
Not to utter, because it’s the only thing that can soothe,
Lie is there, to test our dedication to the truth.

Not to give company, to some forlorn tears,
Not to take the blame, for many unfortunate years,
Not to fill the void, left by a heart’s emptiness,
Sorrow is there, to test our longing for happiness.

Not to use as an excuse, to justify every war,
Not to feign, as a stranger closing every door that’s ajar,
Not to malign, as the reason behind this whole mess,
Hate is there, to test our commitment to forgiveness.

Not to pity, as a nuisance while crossing the road,
Not to ridicule, for wiping the car we rode,
Not to throw, as a catchword at seminars on humanity,
Poverty is there, to test our capacity for generosity.

Not to ignore, any word or to play with every word,
Not to merely sing aloud, a tune never heard,
Not to shout, to everyone about every squabble or difference,
Speech is there, to test our love for silence.

Not to spend, every second running behind a goal,
Not to manage, a vacant minute to salvage your soul,
Not to prove, there really is someone above,
Life is there, to test our willingness to love.

A simple and self-explanatory one for the Mirror, this one is also about my religion, Godism. It merely states that misfortune is there for us to make something positive out of, not to sit and cry about, or curse God about. It takes off from what Godforsaken and Unbelong conveyed.

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?”

Rudolf

All around him, the houses abounded with festoons and bunting,
And from every roof, miniature bells and stars were hanging,
He had seen all this for quite some years now,
But had never understood the significance of it somehow.

All he knew, was that people greeted each other with an extra large smile,
The same people, who couldn’t stand each other’s company, even for a while,
Suddenly everybody had woken up, to a word called share,
And the most popular catchword of the season, was the word ‘care’.

He pondered long, before asking his grandfather about it,
What is the meaning of the festive season, and the Christmas spirit?”,
First surprised, then amused, he put the little boy on his lap,
He tried to explain in kidspeak, about Santa and his burlap.

He said, “Christmas is a time when people do some soul-cleaning,
A time when they try giving sorry more than just a meaning,
A time when people take the time to remember their near and dear,
And recollect with each other the hurrahs and regrets of the year”.

“Christmas is the time for people to sit back and think,
About how often from the cup of happiness they could drink,
It’s the time they evaluate the purpose for which they live,
It’s the time people relearn to give, and to forgive”.

“But why do they have to keep it all for the year-end?”,
Asked the little boy, still not able to fully comprehend,
And why do you try to be extra nice to me, for one day?“,
This time, it was the old man who didn’t know what to say.

“You will understand some day, when your existence becomes stagnant”,
Said the old man, as if reading aloud from a sacred covenant,
“Your life will become wretched enough, to force you to pray”,
“That God make you feel special, atleast for one single day”.

This one is for the Mirror. It is the first in a two-part series on my beliefs on celebration. What is it exactly about celebration that pisses me off? That is some thing that will have to be answered only in the next poem. For now, here are the answers to the other obvious questions.

a) Why Christmas?
Well, it could have been anything else reall, like Dusshera, Sankranthi, Ramzan, or something. I chose Christmas because of the wider connect it has to audiences across the world. But fundamentally, most celebrations/festivities and their underlying reasons are the same.

b) What’s with the title?
The title is derived from a carol, about Rudolf the reindeer. How he was a loner, and rejected by all his peers, and then it was Christmas time and Santa came along and made him an offer, and sunndely he was the toast of town. The carol hopes to impress upon the listener the healing/unifying powet of the Christmas. To me, that is the best example someone can give for having a festival, and hence the title.

Yes & No

It is surprising how two little words can play with your life,
Like frozen butter being teased by a serrated knife,
They hang on at the tip of a person’s tongue,
And then vanish like the tune of a paean unsung.

The word everyone wants to hear, is a definite yes,
But unfortunately, life is more complicated than chess,
Thus choice is something we confer, merely for show,
Because the word we can least bear, is a crushing no.

We must have asked each other this, a million times,
Within the confines of our own mind, like silent chimes,
And we look into each other’s eyes, guessing what the other would say,
But whatever the word, it always had to wait for some other day.

Times when we were happy, it was the last thing on mind,
Times when we were sad, it was too awkward to remind,
And so we would shrug it off, as something for tomorrow,
Naively believing, that there is a holiday for sorrow.

Reminds you of the nights, when I held your sobbing head,
While you haltingly pondered, which way things would head,
You tried unsuccessfully to hold back every tear, to prevent me from wiping,
While I tried, in vain, to hold back the world, to prevent you from weeping.

With cloudy eyes, and a cloudier mind, you tell me,
Tonight is the beginning, of a future we both want to see,
And that tonight if I asked you, you couldn’t say no,
That you were willing to leave everything and just go.

But tonight is a time I would never ask you,
Although that’s something you never knew,
And I know this adamance will take you by surprise,
But I promise, to only ask you, when you really have a choice.

Obviously for a Beacon. Two words, but two worlds apart. It’s like St. Peter refereeing between two doors, and Morpheus behind you saying “I can only show you the door, you’re the one that has to walk through it”. This one is inspired by, and dedicated to the serial Remington Steele. Very rare;y do you come across something that can change your outlook to mundane and important things in life, in such a significant manner, as this serial did. In fact, two of the lines from the poem are actually paraphrased dialogues from one of the episodes. That is how deep an impact it made on my life.

So deep an impact that the next one, ‘Think’ my 200th poem on this blog, is also from the serial.

They are one of the smallest frequently used words in conversation, yes and no. But nevertheless in one circumstance, they are anything but trivial, the answer from a life partner. So how do we ingeniously devious beings counter the risk? By playing out an elaborate ritual, restaurants, movies, champagne, flowers, sweet nothings, joyrides, the works. And after all that is through, a visit to the jeweller, and a patient wait before going for the kill. You see, the timing has to be perfect, so we wait like a tiger waiting for the unsuspecting deer to lower its guard.

But you see, the small catch is, there is no unsuspecting deer, you should probably strike it and change it to ‘expectant deer’. There is only a deer playing along through the entire charade, with a one-word speaking part. The catch is, the deer might decide to improvise, then you are really screwed. Because, all of your preparations, all of your routines, prepared you for the yes, so much so, that the no was merely an insignificant statistical possibility. But what happens when the tables are turned, and the yes becomes an insignificant statistical possibility? Are you prepared enough for the day when the deer stalks the tiger, and you have nowhere to hide?

The thing is, we want something so badly, that we want to believe the other person wants it as much, and so try to rub it off onto them, at times and circumstances when they are cornered into agreeing. I mean, if somebody spent a zillion bucks to make you feel like royalty, and then in return asked you a simple thing like ‘go walk into this cage for me’, it would feel downright awkward to say anything but yes, irrespective of the consequences. But, true love lies in choice, and that sometimes means abiding by and respecting the other person’s choice, however conflicting and detrimental it may be to our own choice. If you really love someone, then why should you not give them a fair chance at exercising their choice, unless of course you fear that their rational-minded choice may not be something palatable to you. Sometimes it sounds like a politician who has done months of canvassing, and then on D-Day hires a limo to drop the voter and a valet to hold an umbrella over the voter’s head until he finishes voting. For some weird reason, that smells of rank insecurity, but then maybe, love today, is really that.

What the voter fails to sometimes comprehend is, what happens after the vote is cast? Will the valet and limo still be in service for them? The answer to that, is what guides the real freedom of choice.

Walk Away

When you hold me, to shake me awake,
And not even the slightest effort I make,
That is when you should realise, the more I dream,
That much longer our relationship will take to redeem.

When you feel me, throbbing with a secret pain,
And yet all I share with you is the disdain,
That is when you should realise, the more you stay,
The slower you would have been, in going your own way.

When you see me, honestly paying attention,
And yet cannot recall anything you mention,
That is when you should realise, the more I listen,
The faster should those strides of yours hasten.

When you hear me, earnestly telling you something,
And somehow none of the words have any meaning,
That is when you should realise, the more I talk,
The greater should be your resolve to get up and walk.

When you know me, and still want to forgive everything,
And I don’t feel that is worth anything,
That is when you should realise, the more you forgive,
The lesser is the time this love has, to live.

Despite every disappointment, when you look into my heart,
And see the heart of a stranger, please quickly depart,
Before this stranger can convince you to delude yourself,
That I will someday reform and become myself.

Given the years together, I know this won’t be easy,
Sometimes you just need to do the things that make you queasy,
But as long as you can still live for another day,
Today, and now, is the best time to just walk away.

This is another one for the Gazebo. Sometimes after years of living with a person, you realise things are just not working out. The other person is talking apples, while you are talking jackfruits. What then is the best course? This is a part of a two-poem series that looks at the alternatives.

Ten Percent

Often, the stories we hear from unfortunate brothers are the same,
Stories of loss, stories of failure to keep ahead in the game,
Whatever their story, all that seems to change is the name,
The rest is simply different shades, flavours of sorrow and shame.

The one thing they won’t tell you, is it all began with an action,
The rest of their story is merely the compulsion of reaction,
Ask the ones with broken relationships from a fit of fury,
Ask the ones with the lucky hand, now enduring penury.

All they did, was react before they thought,
Striking when the iron was way too hot,
And you know what happens, when molten iron breaks the mould,
It frees the butterfly before the cocoon is ready to unfold.

If only they had waited for the iron to slightly cool,
They could by now be holding an indispensable tool,
But most often, the maybes are never meant to be,
Else their own sweet future everyone could see.

If only they could pause those words, to sit back and think,
They wouldn’t be struggling to pull their lives from the brink,
They wouldn’t be burning their bridges faster than they blink,
After all, even the Titanic took only a few hours to sink.

Most of your life happens based on your reaction to it,
And that itself is the simplest way to fix it,
You cannot change life through some fancy premonition,
You can change it by simply changing your reaction.

When hysterical, just sit down and give it some thought,
Whether it is an issue really worth being fought,
Freed from emotion, when your mind is allowed to consider a thought,
You will suddenly find all those answers you have always sought.

Although this is one for the Mirror, it goes elsewhere because it is inspired in part from Stephen Covey‘s ‘Ten Percent Rule’. So, here’s another for the Beacons, one of my funda principles that has held me in good stead in life. Since the poem is in non-abstract verse, no more stories necessary to explain it. 🙂

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