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.

Luciferin

Every time I am asked, why the truth has me enslaved,
It reminds me of my freedom, that darkness has depraved,
So I tell them, “the truth has, and seeks, no control of me”,
“The truth is not about control, it is about being free”.

It is easy to fall in love, because lies are so beautiful,
But it is only to the eyes, that lies even appear beautiful,
The truth and the sun, have a beauty at which you cannot stare,
For the fear of being consumed by their liberating glare.

The truth and the sun, have neither morning nor night,
You cannot know darkness when you are the light,
And without the night, there can be no morning,
There can only be ignorance and awakening.

The truth and the sun, both have no shadow,
Both are the light, a liar fears to follow,
Because every lie, has a shadow called guilt,
One that changes shape with every new tilt.

The shadows of a lie grow longer in the night,
And shrink at the slightest sight of light,
The lie can only exist, as long as the truth we hide,
But the truth can exist, long after no people abide.

Hiding it in the heart, is like keeping the sun in your pocket,
They will burn their way out, even through a metal jacket,
And all that it leaves you with, is a lot of heartburn,
Because the sun, the truth, will both inevitably return.

The truth, put simply, is all about courage and your character,
Courage to sacrifice an easy smile, in return for eternal laughter,
Every time we shelter a lie, we force every minute of life into fight,
But you can choose, to be dragged, or gracefully step into the light.

This is one for the Mirror, and reflects my take on the similarity between the sun and truth. Both have friends, and yet neither cares about it. It is also my reflection on the single largest motivation in my life, the quest for truth.

Black Light

blacklight.jpg

The next batch of them stepped out of the cave,
The first steps they were taking out of the enclave,
Everything went blank, outside, it was just blinding,
So unprepared for things that were now emerging.

Things they never heard of, things they could never believe,
Sights and sounds that their minds would now never leave,
It shattered all their myths, shattered all their cherished beliefs,
It rewrote them, and taught them, facts were the only beliefs.

For them, from now everything in life was just another question,
The only way it answered each one was with another question,
It formed a chain of questions leading all the way,
And every diversion they took was another new way.

The road stretched out for ever with no visible end,
And the light around them was all they could depend,
For years on end, its expansiveness they admired,
And wondered to themselves, how the feet never tired.

They never knew, what they were in, was called day,
Because from it, they could never grow apart, astray,
Through all its bylanes, they would never know the way,
Whether they knew anything about it, they never could say.

The more they explored it, the lesser they knew,
And yet everything they uncovered seemed new,
The more they drank, the more thirsty they got,
And yet, where its charm lay, they comprehended not.

Gradually each one of them began to miss the night,
And wished, for a few moments they lost their sight,
Where were those days, when everything was more than ample,
Back in their cave, their lives had been so much more simple.

To begin with, this one is a paraphrased, versified form of a comment i wrote on Aparna’s blog. Had promised her at that time that i would get back to the topic when i found more time, and now comes that time. Below is the extract of my post then:

knowledge itself is by no means qualitative. it neither creates nor destroys, it just shows people a path. it is what could more properly be likened to light.

imagine a world where everyone was living in darkness(maybe in a cave of simplicity, maybe in a well of contentment), and then one fine day somebody finds a way into a place called light, a place that improves matters and yet complicates them. a place that tickles the restless and thereby hastens change.

it is because people felt too stifled by the darkness of the cave, maybe too bored, that they chose to seek the pleasures of this new city of light called knowledge.

unfortunately theirs proved to be a journey of no return. there was nobody people any longer knew who could shed their cloaks of darkness for these new shimmering dresses called knowledge and soon outgrow dozens of these tight-fitting robes and find a way to get back their cloaks of contentment.

it was an addiction that refused to darken, a disposition that could not anymore brighten. it was the simplest form of organised chaos. one that exploded out of itself only to implode into itself.

the people used to the confines of the cave could never get enough of this newfoundland, because it had no walls, no roof, it spanned an eternity, it spanned the entire horizon, and a flexible one at that. the more they walked the newer the horizon got, but thats all that happened, there was nobody who could ever get to the end of the horizon, to realise that it was one big circular dream that revolved around itself.

thus ended the legend of the cave dwellers, ones who could never wait to get out, and those that could never find their way back home again.

Hardpressed for time as i was on that day, i never could follow it up even afterwards, as different other things caught my fancy, but life being what it is, had to come back to this in the most unexpected of ways. Personally i have nothing against knowledge. Whatever i am today was made possible because of the knowledge that i have gained along the journey.

However, the kind of psychotic that i am, i keep alternating everyday between the quest for my scientific hunger and the thirst for contentment that keeps drying up my throat every other moment. The entire point of the above was more a dialogue between myself everyday, a dialogue between contentment and ambition. Knowledge that by nature has no quality, by its force of power, proves itself as the most deadly temptation human beings ever knew.

It pushes every person beyond their limits, in a supposive bid to increase their happiness. Happiness people believe comes from awareness, from the uncovering of the secrets locked into everything they can and cannot see. Alas, they realise not that contentment too is knowledge, but then nobody goes down that lane, probably a dead-end. It would not seem out of place to expect that people who set out on a journey to keep away from a dead-end, even though that is possibly the only terminal they will ever come across in their lifetime. It presents itself at every turning, and yet the more they see it, the more they choose to ignore it.

Soon will reach a point when everyone would have forgotten what the word satisfaction means. The next generation already believes satisfaction means the beginning of a new pursuit, not the end of the previous one. Anti-progress, anti-development you may think i am. But like i said, what hurts me is not actually the knowledge, but way people choose to selectively imbibe harmful bits of it. Progress is not bad as long as it includes everyone on this journey. But to hoard it up, even when on a full stomach, only to ensure security for tomorrow’s hunger, while many die in today’s journey is what hurts me. It is that contentment that i am talking about.

That is the true sign of a knowledgeable one. One who can share having had his fill. One who can lead others over the roads already travelled by him, instead of walking ahead on a lonely quest of self-fulfillment. Sadly i find this vanishing at an alarming rate among the travellers of knowledge-land today. Everywhere in the world, there is somebody suing somebody else about a patent, about a copyright. Whatever happened to that anachronism called “greater good”. Has it been relegated to the dusty pages of a book that the librarian forgot all about? Or must it be brought back from there only to be sullied by scheming politicians looking out for the greater ‘self-good’.

Though i find this abrupt, i cannot help but end here, for now, as a series of disturbances are pulling me apart from the computer and hope to put in some more, both as a poem and as its appendix, probably on another day, when my mind can no longer bear to merely think over to myself what i feel, like it was today.

Enterprise

To build up the house, card by painstaking card,
To prop it up often with every card you can discard,
And watch your budding smile come to a freeze,
When the house is toppled by the slightest breeze.

The cards lie fallen, scattered in a heap,
Waiting for their shepherd, like lost sheep,
Alas, the shepherd thirsts after an imaginary stream,
And will only get back to them at the end of this dream.

The road seems crooked, and gets even more winding,
And the end seems even farther, every new morning,
With many bylanes to tempt those that wander,
And a scorching sand to make any stream meander.

While others laughed away and chased butterflies,
You followed the path, the direction the eagle flies,
While others stopped to enjoy their dreams of another day,
You kept walking, kicking little stones out of your way.

Pity and hope, your two eyes, watched them play,
Perhaps that joy would be yours some day,
If only you persevered and worked harder each day,
Ahead lay all the games that you and life could play.

You think of those who wish to see you succeed,
And those for whose sake you need to succeed,
And wish they stand beside you when that day does arrive,
To share with you, the feeling of truly being alive.

You never understood why the day begins with a yawn,
Because for you, it signified the hopes lurking in the dawn,
When the days get weary, and the world gets tired,
You are just getting ready to perform, all fired.

You close your eyes and begin your life’s greatest performance,
And strain your ears for the applause from the audience,
Hearing none, you open your eyes to an empty hall,
Happy maybe, that no one was around to see the tear fall.

You sacrificed an entire lifetime for this one moment,
And nobody was present to appreciate how every second was spent,
In that moment, you see the sacrifice, the lifetime all gone,
But wipe away the tear, because you know the show must go on.

You brave the wind, brave the frost, every single day,
Freezing to death, you continue the climb, day after day,
After what seems eternity, you reach the much coveted peak,
And are so dumbstruck, the joy makes you forget how to speak.

Wishing you could stay forever, you begin to descend,
Wishing, all this happiness, there was a better way to spend,
But the descent is not a result of your boredom with conquest,
They are the first steps towards your search for a new quest.

Caught by surprise, your face begins to betray the strain,
Of years of your effort suddenly going down the drain,
You sink into an abyss, and begin to revel in your own pain,
And you realise, it will be many years before you smile again.

Yet you fake some, suppress some and get on with life,
For, stagnation is one facet, you never believed about life,
There will be many other days, when success knocks again,
But it can’t bring back those, that death took away in disdain.

Bitterness sets in, they seem to have deserted you for eternity,
Unable to see your suffering till you overcome its futility,
You wish they could wait to see you outstretch your hand,
And grow from being another of those grains of sand.

Thus you entered the world, your back against the wall,
And prepared yourself to bear someone else’s fall,
Being a fighter, you can always get up and walk,
Unlike those crippled by rumour and gossip, mere talk.

A world where they sized up your life, by how much it was worth,
Where, for a good enough bargain, they would sell the earth,
You get in knee-deep, and wade through its filth,
Wary of drowning, and becoming one with the filth.

The feet are tired, but the mind relentlessly pushes them forward,
When the mind gets tired, your objective propels it onward,
Many milestones pass by, but the appreciation takes longer,
For, these are people, who feed you for last year’s hunger.

Every now and then, you bask in the limelight,
Before someone else’s success steals the spotlight,
Soon you will fade out of people’s lives, out of their sight,
But you refuse to die down, to give up without a fight.

But the allure of fame, of achievement, no longer seems to work,
And the potion of disenchantment slowly begins its work,
The warm fires of discontent begin to burn in your heart,
And that is when everything you worked for, starts falling apart.

When the laughter, the joy, belongs to somebody else’s world,
You begin to feel and become, an alien in your own world,
When the sunshine, the rainfall, falls on everybody else’s land,
You desperately begin to feel like disowning your own land.

When survival becomes the sole yardstick of the living,
And you find yourself no longer capable of giving,
You wonder to yourself if it is really worth living,
And whether another life would be more forgiving.

But what about your companions, those now walking with you,
Those who understood you, those who believed in you,
Will you walk away from their memories, away from their lives?
And live you life alone, leaving them searching for alternate lives?

Having walked this path, touching their hearts, with your life’s song,
You should atleast expect, that forever, they will walk along,
They will walk with you, till you get rid of this guilt,
Walk with you, till you get back, to the house you once built.

The house has fallen, but the cards still exist,
Intact as a test, for those who persist,
Or maybe as a chance, to build it again, better,
Instead of crying over what has gone bitter.

You roll up your sleeves to once again demonstrate,
The never-ending battle of humans against fate,
You slog through the night, to open its doors to sunrise,
And show the world, the fabled human spirit, of enterprise.

This one is dedicated to Sukanya, who in my terms is a ‘survivor’ for those that can understand the term in the sense that i mean it in. When you go through the entire range of experiences that life has to offer, you tend to remember the scars than the victories, because the scars are visible whereas victory is not. It is this paradox that bogs down a number of achievers into mediocrity. It is this paradox that clips your wings when you need to fly that one last time.

Some people look further into the scars and find the victories that caused them, and the failures that enriched them. These are the ones that achieve more out of life than the mediocre ones can in a hundred lifetimes. But that makes them neither immortal nor immune to the vagaries of time and the tricks of the mind.

Sometimes they need to be reminded of the past to get on with a future that is more promising than all the past combined was. Once clear about that fact, they pick up the pieces and get to work. The house of cards was symbolic of the experiences we all have in life. They all differ in nature like the faces and figures on the cards. Not everyday does one get a joker, and not everyone gets an ace everyday. It is this understanding that despite not getting the winning card, life is a card game where luck is not the only aide, and that hard work can take you to farther places than luck can, that fuels the enterprising.

The enterprising fall more number of times and fail more number of times than the prudent and risk-averse person, but in the end, the enterprising with a fuller and richer experience of life than the conservative. This poem is about one such enterprising person asking her to use the fallen house of cards as a chance to build it again in a more beautiful manner with a lot more wonderful experiences that the previous ones, and understand, that there are people everywhere who are willing to help her rebuild, even if only by standing by and saying an encouraging word, because everybody must build their own house of life.

(got lots more to say, will get back to this when i find more time).

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