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.

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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.

Runway 77

Every so often, you think, the power to choose is a birthright,
And so you set about, trying to separate the day from night,
Only to realise that, in order to appreciate the light,
You need to sometimes sacrifice your sight.

Every time you think you have closed the door on fear,
The footsteps of courage become too faint to hear,
Every time you stamp the last vestige of doubt,
Your certainty becomes too scared to shout.

You think you have succeeded in holding back the tear,
And strangely, the smile is still nowhere near,
The sorrow that you manage to keep out of the fortress,
Swims in the moat outside, along with happiness.

You think you have wiped away every stain of greed,
Only to find contentment no longer paying heed,
You think you have shown envy the door,
Only to find camaraderie speaking no more.

You think you have finally enslaved misunderstanding,
Only to find harmony chained beyond standing,
You think you have rope enough, for all thoughts to bind,
Only to find yourself no longer in control of the mind.

You know, standing before you, is the person you truly seek,
And yet, your pedigreed learning does not let you speak,
And as she leaves, you know it is your life walking away,
But pride prevents you from having things your way.

You see less capable people leaving you behind, on the ground,
And soon enough, you are the only one who is still around,
Standing on the runway, you wonder why life isn’t taking off,
Unaware, the things that keep us grounded, also prevent us from take-off.

This one takes the strike back to the Beacons again, this time for Jim Rohn and his beautiful saying. While the saying was the foundation of the poem, the bulk of it is my tribute to the movie ‘Girl in the Cafe‘ which is one of the most touching love stories i have seen, not to mention the empathy angle.

There are many times in life, when we feel life has left us behind, and the entire world has moved to the next paradigm, and you are still stuck in a time warp. What we fail to realise, is that the things we cherish to stay in warp, are the things that are keeping reality out.

We keep trying to reach one of the ends of the scale (depression/happiness) without realising the futility of our efforts. There is no such thing as the end of a scale. The ends only exist to give better meaning to the middle of the scale. We fail to realise that we weren’t born to be eternally happy, or eternally sad. That isn’t the real objective/purpose of anybody’s life. We were born to appreciate the balance that exists across nature and life in general.

We would never appreciate the day if we had never seen a single night. On the contrary, we would curse it, since that was all we would see all our lives. We wouldn’t appreciate white if we never set our eyes on black. We wouldn’t praise Rama/Krishna if Ravana/Kamsa were pushover pieces of cake. Their legends only grow as much as the legends of their opposition grow. If Ravana was a crippled guy in a wheelchair with both hands also gone like Sholay’s Thakur, then nobody would bother reading of the epic battle that took place Lanka, they would simply forward to the happily-ever-after ending.

Whether in stories or in real life, the extremes are glorified only to make living worth it, but somewhere along the way, people forgot the middle ground, and so balance went out of the window. So, even if theoretically someone did attain eternal happiness, they wouldn’t know it, because if you are forever standing in the sun, you wouldn’t know if it felt great/cool/rad simply because that was what you were/will be doing all your life, and so you never know how that compares since darkness is never a benchmark you have.

Here’s to the middle ground that everybody’s forgotten. The ground where people laugh together in happier times, and stick together in difficult times.

Final Stand

Silently we sit, staring down at the menu on the table,
The gaze is firm, but the mind is not yet stable,
In one quick scoop, our hands desperately grab,
Holding down the menu, I let my modesty take a stab.

Your vision begins to blur, when the tears form a cloud,
And every single drop, is an unspoken word, crying aloud,
We finally manage to order, the first mutual conversation,
Sadly, the words brought back memories, void of expectation.

But today, we both decide to give our emotions a voice,
A chance to correct the consequences of a wrong choice,
Sometimes the words just need to be out in the open,
True communication begins only when the heart is open.

So we let the words out, in a torrential flow,
Neither of us caring, to allow the tide to slow,
It is only when neither of us is able to follow,
That we pause to question, why they sound so hollow.

We found nothing that really justified the hate,
And nothing that revealed love’s unfortunate state,
With every thought laid bare, there only remained the distance,
And so we decided, to try and dissolve the resistance.

We both came alone, for this attempt at reunification,
And left together, each, holding the hand of separation,
Wondering whom it was, that we came to meet, us or separation,
Now all that is left, are the morbid formalities of reparation.

There isn’t a future for us, only a future for you and me,
But that night at the restaurant, we first saw the meaning of we,
People say distances can only be bridged when both the hearts are open,
We laugh in retrospect, some bridges are accidents waiting to happen.

This is one for the Gazebo, because i guess i will never see such a day. The poem is a versification of the restaurant scene at the end of the novel ‘Lightning‘. Although the novel has a happy ending, have changed it to a KB one because the novel’s ending cheats/disguises the actual KB ending with a happy one. So either ways, this one is about a couple who meet one final time at a restaurant to agree to separate.

Resilience

They say it is the words that first cause such a thing,
And that nothing quite matches the angst that words bring,
Hurting in places far deeper than the skin, than the mind,
And an equally acerbic retort, is the only solace I can find.

So deep a hurt, that the only words left were silence,
A silence that grew as a measure of each one’s patience,
It soon became a matter of the mind, a test of resolve,
With neither of our stands ready to try and resolve.

Like adoring statues we sat, staring at each other,
Willing, not wanting, to speak to one another,
My mind wishes that this were all an aberration,
But it knows that the person before me, is no apparition.

From a swearing fest, it turned into a staring contest,
Both of us determined not to let the other get the best,
It seemed that something more than a relationship stood to test,
As it became more of a showdown than a simple conquest.

The eyes grow tired and yearn for some sleep,
While the wound is busy, burning within, far from asleep,
Soon the heart begins to feel the warmth of each ember,
And the images get more vivid than you want to remember.

Even the lips do not hear the mind let out a scream,
As it is shaken awake from a listless repentful dream,
I understand it is now time to wake up, make amends,
For, what are few words, to separate true friends.

Being incessantly hammered, the dam finally breaks,
Not by a flood, or by the overflowing of a hundred lakes,
Overcome with remorse, I let go of all that I hold dear,
And all my resilience is washed away, by the first tear.

This one is for the Gazebo, since it is too fictional to imagine myself crying, hardened rock that i pretend to be. It is for those times when we lose relationships over silly words, and then stare at each other, hoping the other person would be the first to repent. The resilience that we believe gives us our self-respect often also takes away friends/relationships from us.

Strangers Again

Not long after monsoon bid its last droplet goodbye,
Uninvited, unexpectedly, you happened to come by,
Looking out for someone, who definitely wasn’t me,
Politely reminding me, to not bother, just let you be.

But time is a trickster, so it decided not to wait,
And hooked us together, with a common bait,
Coming together seemed so much of our own accord,
That we never wondered, on when time had played its card.

They say time flies swifter when it is least observed,
Specially, times when life seems not, the least bit reserved,
So too were we, drawn together, like sparks from a flint,
Warming up into a flame, without the slightest hint.

Every time I believed there was something more than I knew,
You made it appear that there was a lot more still due,
And every time I believed that it was finally over,
You teased me into reconsidering what I meant by over.

That was a long time ago, a time when you were here,
Now all I can do, is to imagine, you are still near,
The ensuing years have dried out the last tear,
Making me believe life never took away anything too dear.

Even today I wonder, if it was all a game, merely a test,
Whose result I know nobody who will truly attest,
For, everybody has their own journey of no return,
And along the way, they have their own bridges to burn.

Our time is now gone, like it will be for all some day,
The day when each of us must inevitably go our own way,
Strangers we had met, and strangers we shall remain,
Until fate decides, to bring us together again.

This one is a continuation of a previous post Strangers. While that was an abstract one on the relation between love and life, this one is more grounded, and is about people. That pushes it into Gazebo.

Cannibal

For a second, all seems quiet in this primeval forest,
But only a second, silence is something they all detest,
Each to itself, noise is their only music, their only protest,
For, asking for understanding, is too formidable a request.

Above the saplings, beneath the vines, I finally reach a clearing,
Only to comprehend, it is the end of the jungle I am nearing,
There was once a time, when it stretched to the ends of land,
Ages ago, before it was within grasp of man’s lusty hand.

But things have changed, and so have the times,
All that persists, is the pungence of its ripe limes,
The grandeur only remains in the great oak’s tale,
As a witness to a relationship now nearly stale.

Gone are the days when the flora swayed in the breeze,
To the tune of young birds celebrating their release,
Days when the daisies couldn’t wait for the sunshine of spring,
Nights when cuckoos shivered, at what the winter would bring.

But the birds, grow tired soon, and shall no longer sing,
They find the tree too stuffy, to  even rest their wing,
Deafened by time, the trees too are now beyond caring,
Although they admit, the separation is beyond bearing.

The squirrel meekly watches, as the birds go their way,
Leaving the old peepul behind, for people to log away,
It looks up one last time, at the slowly receding pack,
Now more than sure, nothing will make them come back.

One such a ground I stand, a slave without a conscience,
Greedy, slogging for the greedy, who demand obedience,
Sweating, I continue, hacking away at the roots that feed humanity,
So that my children’s dream can soon turn into a concrete reality.

Although any reader would surely put this under Gazebo, the place it rightly belongs is Mirror, because not only is this about the environment, it is more about my own life than anything else. The message and the rest of the stuff is merely camouflage over a more sinister story of my own life. It is as much about an educated woodcutter and the ecological balance, as it is about two people whom I value more than my life fighting with each other, unable to bear each other. There’s a lot more to say, but that will have to wait till I get some comments :).

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