Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In Front of Death

In front of Death

I opened my eyes and stared at Death
The lustre of my life in His eyes
“Don’t fear Death when you’ve lived your life”
Or so had proclaimed the wise

In His eyes played the story of my life
The colour of my memories bygone
His arms slowly circled around me
Was it my time to move on?

I saw myself- a baby boy
Trying to touch the sky
My heart pumped with a million dreams
The well-spring of inspiration would never dry

To conquer the world with the vigour of youth
It was all mad exuberance and energy
And after many a success and failure
It was mind and body in synergy

Thoughts galloped like a mature steed
Action was not far behind
I chipped away at my goals with passion
As fame and fortune followed in kind

I stared into the eyes of Death
Who spread all the fear he could conjure
“Share my life for a day I said”
It was my turn to allure

 I had lived on the “Cloud Nine” of success
From which burst the rain of happiness
The droplets filled the ocean of contentment
It was a plan of God, executed with finesse.

I had conducted my life at will
A well-orchestrated symphony
If I were to embrace Death-it would be like brothers-
And, afterall, a last twist of Destiny.

                                                            -11th October 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Letters,Calls,Messages.....and Longing

          Letters, Calls, Messages.......and Longing

"When do we realize we actually like someone? Is it when we are with them day after day, spending millions of moments together....???Or is it during that single moment of separation, which seems drawn out to eternity? Or is it at the end of that eternity when we actually realize what we missed?"

Subramanian tried to recollect her face. He was glad he could remember her smile. But he didn't have the time to notice much else. The girl had been ushered in for a minute to serve coffee to the prospective groom's party, and was quickly sent back inside.

The radio at Muttiah's saloon blared a Kannada duet. Subramanian couldn't understand it. But could connect with the tune and the possibility of  lasting romance it presented. Soon after the haircut, he went to the local post-office.


Chandru first met her at a music concert. Classical music had brought the two of them together. She played the Tamburi for her Guru. Fortunately for Chandru, she wasn't talented enough to sing in a concert herself
(Chandru would've never thought he stood a chance, if it had been the case). They had shared a silent coffee in a canteen outside the concert hall, after Chandru caught her attention by attending 15 concerts of her Guru. At the end of the coffee, she wrote her 7 digit phone number of a small piece of paper and hurriedly thrust it in his hand.


Procuring her mobile number was easy enough for Rahul. He knew girls these days don't actually mind sharing their personal contact. The difficult part was getting her to constantly be in touch with him and not let her drift. He could sense he had too many competitors that way. Facebook helped. And so did Whatsapp. But everyone else had access to it too! He had to create points of difference.

Subramanian had struck a deal with the post master at the girl's village. For 2 rupees a week, his letters would bypass the girl's father and directly reach the girl. He had sent the first letter hoping against hope that the girl would respond. In the wait that followed, he had nightmares that the girl would actually report his covert advances to her father. Or the post master would actually double-cross him. But neither happened. A week later, Subramanian received her reply. Subramanian now had more than her smile to remember- her handwriting. In a burst of inspiration, he tried to imagine her face, given her handwriting. After a whole night of thought, he was none the wiser. He had to wait for the next 6 months, when the marriage would actually happen.


Chandru's first few calls to her were centred around her Guru. He found that it was the only subject that actually opened her up. Any digression and she would promptly hang up within a few moments of it. Her Guru is this; her Guru is that; he gave his first concert when he was just seven.......At the end of 3 months, Chandru could've written a biography of that great man. Thankfully, somewhere down the line, the topics started to get a little more diverse. They would discuss her routine. Again,amazingly, it was centred around her Guru. Chandru had to reconcile to the fact that her Guru- in person or spirit-would be a part of their life, if at all it was destined to be "their" life, at some point of time in the future.


Rahul felt he was making his presence felt. He had pursued his agenda diligently for more than 3 weeks now. Sending her "good-morning" messages; making sure he was the one who wished her "good-night" before she actually slept each night. Asking her umpteen doubts(ofcourse some of them had to be fake!!) about classes, assignments and what not! 10 days earlier, he had graduated to complimenting her. 
"You seem to know everything" was the first one. 
"You are such a brain!" was the second one.  
After a string of such seemingly mundane ones, he finally had got more personal two days earlier.
"You look beautiful when you let your hair loose" he texted and waited with bated breath for a reply.
" :) :)" said a message from the other end. A perfectly diplomatic way of ending the chat.


Subramanian's letters were getting better and bolder by the day. The formality in tone was lost after the first couple of letters. The inhibitions five-six letters later. Subramanian would get playful. He would compare her eyes to stars(though he never remembered having seen them) and pick a few lines out of the latest Hindi songs and dedicate it to her. She would respond in kind, throwing in a few metaphors and similes in her own way. He would always persuade her to call him by his name. She would always refuse, stating that if a wife called her husband by her name, his lifespan would reduce. Subramanian liked it when she said that. He felt there was someone who actually cared for him, apart from his parents. Yet he felt this liking was somehow more pleasant. 

Four months into the letter-exchange, his feelings for her reached a fever pitch. He was tired of trying to imagine her face, her features. He wanted to see her...atleast in a photograph. Photograph....that was it!
He dashed a letter off to her. He asked for a photograph with her next letter. And started waiting for it.


Chandru called her as usual. She wouldn't pick. Twenty rings later, the call got disconnected. He dialled again. The result was the same. She had never done this before. A few minutes later, he dialled her number again. There was no answer. A few hours later, he tried again. An unfamiliar voice answered it. Chandru was taken aback. Never had someone else responded to his call. Somehow, it had always been her. He put the receiver back. He started wondering what was wrong.


The messages had become a lot more personal of late. Rahul felt he was on the right track. Messages, instant replies, "sorry"s when the replies were a little late than usual- these had become the norm. Likes, dislikes, preferences were shared without inhibition. They spent a lot of time together during the day. And once they got back home, spent a lot of time calling and texting each other. The initial attempt by Rahul had been a little forced. But then, the whole thing seemed so natural now. Rahul would reach out to her on instinct. She would reach out to Rahul.
After a couple of months, Rahul decided something's got to give. He was tired of having to hold back his feelings for her, now that they spent such a lot of time together. The moment seemed to have arrived. On one of their usual night time chats, he suddenly popped the question:
"Would you go out with me?" and waited, his heart beating heavily.


15 days passed. There was no reply from her. Subramanian was confused. Had he committed a mistake by asking her for a photograph? Had the letter somehow reached her father, who had decided to break the alliance? Or was the girl herself angry? You never knew with conservative girls. You never knew what made them angry. You never knew what made them withdraw into a cocoon, from which extricating them was near impossible. Subramanian was nervous. Had one small act of his ruined his prospective marriage?
The silence was deafening.


Two days passed. She hadn't called Chandru. The norm was a call per day. He had called her yesterday. She hadn't picked. And she hadn't called herself today. Chandru was worried. Had the unfamiliar voice reported it to her parents? Or worse her Guru? That would be the end of the world. He received 4 calls that day. Everytime, he felt the elation when the phone rang. And the sinking feeling when the voice at the other end was not hers. What was this unexpected wedge that threatened to separate them??


She hadn't messaged for 15 minutes now. Rahul was cursing himself. Why did he have to ask her out when everything was going so well? They were enjoying each other's company to the core. He had her attention and to an extent, affection. Rahul now felt there was no need to ask her out. Should he message her and apologise? Or should he wait? Would his question be the end of it? His mind was into all sorts of calculations. His eyes and heart were waiting for that one message......


Subramanian received a letter. It bore the post mark of her village. He opened it and could see her handwriting. He rushed to read the reply.

"Hope you're doing well. Sorry for the delay in reply. The photo I had was one from school. Didn't want to send that. Had to arrange for a saree. Had to book a time in the studio to get myself photographed. All without Appa getting to know about it. Post master uncle helped a lot. Hope you like the photo. The colour of the saree.........." the letter went on. Subramanian opened the cover enclosed with the letter. He would never miss her anymore.

The phone started ringing. Chandru's excitement was a little abated now. He had resigned himself to the fact he had lost her. He was thrilled when he heard her voice from the other end.

"I had to go to my Guru's village for two days. It was at very short notice. Please excuse me."

Chandru felt relief wash all over him. He had been dejected, angry and worried moments ago. 

"That's ok. Make sure you tell me next time!" he said with a cheery voice, before they changed topics.

Rahul was still cursing himself, when he finally received a reply 20 minutes later. His phone vibrated, indicating a notification.
The text was from her ofcourse. He expected the worst. The message only said 

"Dyu want me to let my hair loose or tie it up, tomorrow?"

"When do we realize we actually like someone? Is it when we are with them day after day, spending millions of moments together....???Or is it during that single moment of separation, which seems drawn out to eternity? Or is it at the end of that eternity when we actually realize what we missed?"

                                                                                                - 4th October 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Conversation with the Sea

A Conversation with the Sea

I sat down on the sand,cross-legged.Poised to take in all that the place had to offer.No other soul was in the vicinity.The sky was just starting to turn red, promising a glorious sunset.It was just us...Me and the Sea...

I always felt that the sound made by the waves was not just noise;That there was a pattern to it,there was a meaning to was as though the Sea wanted to convey to us some deep thought. I started trying to understand the sound of those waves, and that was how our conversation began.....

"What are you?" I asked the Sea."I try to convince myself that you're just a huge mass of water....but every time I see you, I see you in a new light. Today, you embody all the peace in the world..tomorrow you're disaster personified. You play with us like a child, but then, you're the lifeblood of millions who depend on you. On the one hand you make a hundred thoughts spring in my the same time you impose your calm on me.What are you?"

Two small waves tickled my feet,as though acknowledging my question. "You're right. I'm just a huge mass of water. Or shall I say, a huge mass of water with a soul. A soul that goes through almost all emotions that humans go through. A soul that houses trillions of other life forms and treats them equally...something a human soul can never do.But whatever the emotions, the essence is calm. That is my truest form."

I had to agree. I could sense the calm. It was as though the Sea had induced that calm in me. My mind was suddenly blank. It was detachment. I could feel that sense of isolation. Yet this isolation made me feel a part of some grand plan, rather make me feel down, or lonely, for that matter. All I wanted to do was continue the conversation.

"Where do you end? Or begin? I strain my eyes to see as far as I can see..yet I cannot see the other shore. Why is that?" I asked.

"That's because I want you to stretch yourself to the limit. I see human beings often putting limitations on themselves and achieving very little. When you see me, I want you to reflect on the potential you have. Reflect inward and discover the sea of potential you have. The vastness of your intellect. The moment you see the other shore, you're likely to feel that reaching there is easy. I don't want to make things easy for you.Strain your eyes; strain your intellect to reach there. Cross the Sea of Ignorance. Therein lies your destiny......."

I pondered over this. How true the sea was. There was so much on the other side. So much left to achieve. One had to aspire to be on the other side..always...each mile crossed would be a milestone. But I had more pressing questions on my mind.

"You touch so many lands. Millions reside on your many shores. How are they different from us?"

"I see no difference. It is humans who perceive the difference and create barriers. In fact, I sometimes feel I am a barrier that creates misconceptions. But like I said, you need to cross that Sea of Ignorance. You may belong to different cultures. But the values that define humanity are universal. The language of love, peace, empathy; The feeling of success, happiness, melancholy- they are the same throughout the world. I'm lucky to have seen them being expressed across cultures. I'm lucky I'm able to connect with them. I'm lucky when people come to me for that moment of peace and calm, I'm able to provide them with that. I'm lucky the Creator made me what I am...the Sea."

I was amazed at the simplicity of the answer.For someone who believed the Sea to be a giant mass of water- power and authority personified- I was floored by its humility.
"You have a big heart." I blurted.

I could almost sense the Sea chuckle. "It comes with age, and wisdom. I've seen so many civilizations take birth, flourish and die on my shores. Battles have been fought in my waters-turning it red with blood. I myself have caused wrath and destruction in many places. None of it was intended. But somewhere, we all fit in the grand plan of the Creator. And when you understand that, you lose all your ego. I have developed the magnanimity to let trillions of life forms flourish in my depths. I've let millions of human beings sustain themselves using my resources. And every now and then, there are a few like you, with whom I converse. I don't know what you take away from that, but I understand a lot from each human being I talk to."

I could now actually feel the presence of the Sea. It seemed to have a personality of its own. I wanted to call it "he" or "she"- giving it a near human connotation. But then, I felt the whole exercise would be so mundane. The Sea would probably never aspire to be human. But we humans, could always aspire to be the Sea- and embody the vastness of knowledge, depth of feeling and humility of being.

The sunset was as amazing as ever. As the went down in the horizon, I asked the Sea "Don't you feel you defeat the sun every evening? A sense of superiority?"

"Ofcourse not" the Sea said. "Why would a Mother feel superior when her beloved son comes home to sleep?"

The waves still made sound. Only now, they appeared to be singing a lullaby........

                                                                                               - 23rd August 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The (Dis)Connect

                                  The (Dis)Connect

My heart is in it
But I'm just not there
My mind is on a different plane
Travelling to I know not where.

There's such huge noise out there
Yet a weird silence inside.
It's two lives I've learnt to live,
Each kept side by side.

The smile is always large and wide
Yet the twinkle misses the eye.
Life that seemed so intense
At once seems so dry.

I reach out there trying to express myself
Baring my thoughts to connect.
Yet at that moment the World blocks me
(Or do I block the World??)
There has never been a bigger disconnect!

                                                                                 - 28th July 2013

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Writer's Woes - 3

                                       A Writer's Woes - 3 

 As usual, his thoughts didn't live up to his expectations. Why he even chose writing for a living, had been a mystery to him as well. He looked at the greenery outside the window of the train as he opened his diary for the umpteenth time...

"You need to do better than that, son" said the passenger on the opposite berth. He was an old man;Rimmed  glasses with a thread and white hair complete with a beard. He lowered the newspaper he was reading and looked him in the eye. 
"Green can inspire you only so much. It's the abundance within that needs to overflow, for you to put pen on paper...."
It was all going overhead for him.

"I feel intellectually challenged."he lamented. "I feel I've used up everything I have. I can't see myself writing anymore."
The old man took pity on him. "Every time you wrote, there was a third eye which you used to describe the world to your intellect. The description filled the well of thoughts and thoughts overflowed. For whatever reason, that well seems to be very empty!"

"Yes...I do feel empty" he agreed. "But then, there was something that always filled that well you're talking about. Experiences. Little ones, big ones, huge ones. Experiences I had been through. Experiences I had heard about. Experiences I could connect with and weave a story around. Why does it seem so difficult to spot one these days? Is it because I've lost the art of spotting them? Or have the people around me stopped having experiences of any sort?" He was getting agitated by the moment.

"You've simplified your life a little too much in my opinion...." the old man said. "You've classified some experiences as mundane and have stopped bothering about them. You fear going through certain experiences. So you can never write about them. And, you're too timid to write about a few experiences you've gone through. Unless you choose to open up your mind in one way or the other, you're going to face this famine. Only a rain of experiences can make the land of thoughts fertile. You may then sow seeds of imagination and reap a harvest that is intellectually pleasing."

He could see the greenery outside. Vast expanses of cultivated land were now being replaced by wilderness. He felt a strange sense of creativity embedded in the wilderness. The old man seemed to have read his mind already. "This is where writers like you and me thrive. In the wilderness. Where your thoughts can grow the way they want. Small plots. Huge ideas. An idea clinging to an other one. One thought growing on the other and feeding on it continuously. There is no boundary for creativity here. Whereas the cultivated land earlier, the story was slightly different. The harvest was excellent, but somewhere, there was a boundary. Somebody had defined what was yours, and what was not........."

He enjoyed the limitlessness of the wilderness for sometime, in silence. The old man made perfect sense.
He first had to come out the boundaries he set for himself. He had to start experiencing life all over again- though that wouldn't be easy. He looked at the old man.

The old man was writing away. There never seemed to be a pause in his writing. At this rate, he would write a story every hour!
He asked the old man "How do you manage to write so much? And so soon?"
The old man chuckled. "Thanks to you, I think I've discovered a new secret to writing today. Your mind can have the greatest of ideas, but the subtlety can come only when you put pen on paper. I might've compared your creativity to greenery. It was the spur of the moment. But unless I articulate it, I may not remember it at all later. When I met you today, I could recognise your problem, because I was going through the same myself.
 I could see your hands twitching as you held the diary, yet I could see your mind twitching as well. I could see it hesitating to put a shapeless idea on paper. It had its own inhibitions. It had its expectations to live up to. 
I felt it was the same with me as well. To be honest, a mind goes through cycles of drought and abundance. It is how well we combat the season of drought that determines how productive our season of abundance is. 
I started writing in front of you...and I can already feel my season of abundance beginning....
Like everything else in life, it's a cycle........."

Suddenly, the train entered a tunnel. The darkness lasted quite a while. When the train was finally out of the tunnel, he noticed that the old man was no longer seated opposite him.

Finally, there was a sense of resolve as he opened his diary......

                                                                                                  -20th July 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Second Chance.....

A Second Chance......

I died.It was in my sleep. A couple of seconds of strong intense pain and that was it! I thanked God for that.(I could do it personally now anyways!) I left my body behind and journeyed on. It was a clear, serene path that awaited me. Walls of gold on either side rose up to 15 feet, cutting off any noise. It was claustrophobic and lonely-yet I never felt so. It was as though there were travellers alongside. I could sense them, but not hear or see them. I glided across the path. I rather enjoyed the experience of levitating a few inches above the ground. 

After travelling for what seemed like a couple of hours I arrived at a fork. There was a signpost that read
 "The Newly Dead". It was obviously meant for people like me. I took the path. I glided for an other 10 minutes and arrived at a gate. I couldn't see beyond. There was a counter. The man behind the counter was dressed in a blue jacket and wore a white hat. His body seemed to have disappeared beneath the waist so he didn't need a trouser. Without even looking up he said " Name: ------; Date of Birth: -------; Date of Death: -----;
Type of Death: Tentative; Upon reading the last row, he looked up and looked at me for a whole second before declaring "Second right, third left. Room next to the dry banyan tree.Keep moving."

I wondered what all this meant. Was that room meant to by my final resting place in the other World? Did it mean I was never to go through the cycle of life and death again? With all these thoughts, I followed the man's instructions.

The room upon first look, didn't seem to lead anywhere.But there seemed to be a lot of light.Was it a cliff that would drop me to hell? There was just a thin curtain for an entrance. I parted it and entered the room. There was a single chair.I sat down on it. Suddenly, I was plunged into darkness. Then pictures and letters appeared on a screen.........

The Place You never went back: The screen showed my school. There I was. A small kid. My first teacher holding my hand to lead me into the class. Now a young boy- reciting a poem in front of the class as my teacher looked on. Then finally, a smart teenager as I passed out. My teachers clapping me all the way as I received my certificate. I had never managed to go back and visit the place again. I remembered promising my teachers I'd come back and report my progress in life, every summer. Many summers had come....and gone. Now I was dead. I could never go back...even if I wanted to......."I wish I could go there and say goodbye!" I said to myself. "You will" I thought I heard someone whisper. Or may be it was a trick of the wind!

The Apology You never accepted: The visual brought with it a surge of guilt. I could see my friend apologising to me profusely over something he had done. Admittedly it had hurt me a lot- but was not something I couldn't forgive. He had persisted for 2 years now. He had meant a lot me before the incident. But I was so devastated that to forgive was something I couldn't think of. He had messaged even last night. I had seen it before going to sleep. I felt terrible. I felt the need to talk to him. Someone wise has said "People who commit mistakes are more deeply hurt than the ones who bear those mistakes". The guilt was piling up every passing moment......

The Truth You never told: My mother was waiting for me at the door. She hadn't slept the whole night. She'd been waiting for me. I had told her I'd be late. But I was so drunk the night before that I couldn't think of going home in that state. I slept at a friend's house and came back home in the morning. I saw her waiting at the door. I knew she was a worried soul. I simply said "Sorry" and went to the bathroom to get rid of the 
foul smell I was reeking of. Characteristic of her, she never discussed it again. I had thought that she didn't know that I drink occasionally. But now the visual showed her discussing it with Dad. They were planning to confront me in the open this morning. Alas! They'd be in for a shock.....

The Gamble You should never have taken: It was the cricket field. Our team was battling for a spot in the finals in a tournament. I was the captain. We had to defend 10 runs in the last over to win the semis. I still had an over left. But in an adventurous zeal, handed the ball to a lesser known bowler. We lost the game. A portion of the team identified it as a tactical blunder. The rest, a lack of courage on my part to bowl the last over. Only I knew it was a gamble that didn't come off. The team that defeated us was beaten badly in the finals-it compounded my regret. I still replayed the game in my mind every night to my last one.

The Habit You never kicked: The screen showed me with my worst habit-Procrastination. I cleaned half my wardrobe and postponed the rest for the next day. I completed half my assignment and never bothered to do the rest. Too many things left half done came to my mind, that I had postponed to some later date and never exactly came back to completing them. The song I was learning to play on the guitar, the old-age home I was planning to visit for an eternity, the membership at the gym I promised myself every first day of a much was left unfinished. What hurt me the most was that I postponed writing the climax of the story that I had so longingly written. I had planned to do it tomorrow night.......

The Words You never said: It was to her. The screen showed her looking at me deeply in the eye. Waving at me intently. I knew we would click. Yet I couldn't pluck the courage to say those important words. I had told them to girls who didn't care and didn't mean a damn to me, in hindsight..but somehow, not to her. I still remember that long gaze of longing she had given me on what probably was the last day when she probably thought I'd muster the courage to go speak. I could not. Courage overflowed months later. But I learnt she was firmly committed. I would never blame her. I would only blame myself. Regret clouded my heart: "Will I get an other chance?" I asked aloud. I wanted to live again, and say those words to her. "We'll think about it" I swear I heard someone say this. I jumped around. But there wasn't anyone there.

The Risk You never took: The screen showed me acting. It was probably my second passion in life-after cricket. I could see people watching me act with an intensity that matched the intensity of my acting on stage. I received lots of awards, tonnes of praise. Some people went on to predict I'd be a bigger success in theater than I ever was in academics. I was buoyed by all this to think of a career as an artiste. But somewhere I felt the pull of the security a normal academic life would give me. A good engineering degree from a decent college- I could lead a life with a luxurious lifestyle. I had conveniently chosen lifestyle over life. The work I now did had no life in it. And it didn't give me the time to relish my so-called lifestyle........

The Life You never Lived: The visuals showed a below par me- someone who could achieve lots, but was never motivated enough to do so. Lack of intent,courage and adventure plagued me. I dragged myself through the day and never really took charge of my life. My life meandered along its own course without a thrust that mattered. What had started like a waterfall of energy in school had become a rivulet, trying to find the sea-where it could happily merge and disappear into oblivion. It couldn't even achieve that-I remembered my life had ended last night. I probably deserved it.........................

I buried my head in my hands. I was aghast. I felt terrible. The lessons I had never learnt in life- death had taught me in 3 hours. I wished I was alive. I wished I could correct all those mistakes. Lend a sense of completion to my life.....
Suddenly the lights came on. "Please leave the room" the screen said.

I glided out slowly. There was a small board with my name on it. "Please sign here" it said. I looked for a pen. I suddenly felt a sting on my right index finger. It was a small prick. Blood started oozing. I got the message and signed the board in blood. The cut healed in a moment. The signature disappeared and a message appeared. "Please collect your mission from the Secretary, Department of Tentative Deaths".

"So I have some work here too!" I thought. I glided across to the Department of Tentative Deaths. The secretary was a queer guy.Only his head was visible. I wanted to ask him why. Yet felt it wasn't the right time to do so. " Mission??" I asked, a little nervous. The secretary handed me a sheet of paper.

Without even looking at me, he said "You've left a lot of your responsibilities incomplete on Earth. You don't fit in Heaven or in Hell. Fill this sheet with your goals every night and complete them the next day. The night you don't fill, you go to Hell. The day you don't achieve those set goals, Hell comes to you. A Tentative Death guy is given a second chance. You've got one. Use it well."

He pushed a lever. Within moments, I traveled back to my body. I could sense my eyes prickling as the rays of the early morning sun hit my room. I couldn't understand if the whole thing had been real or was just a dream.It was too real to be considered a dream. Yet was too dream-like to be considered real. I got up from my bed. A sheet of paper I seemed to be clutching fell on the floor..........

                                                                                                  -10th June 2013

-Everyday, Life gives us a second chance....or probably a last one....


Monday, May 20, 2013

Leave your baggage behind...

Leave your baggage behind...

I stretch my hands to touch the sky
Yet something holds me behind
My eyes try to reach that distant star
In any way I can find.

The dreams that we long cherish
Need a single moment of courage
The difficult paths are always trodden alone
you'll never find an entourage.

I hear opportunity knock on my door
Yet try to pretend it's not there.
The fear of an impostor lurks in my heart
A failure is something I wouldn't dare.

The imagined fear of failure
The rumour of risk and uncertainty
Is the baggage that weighs me down
Along with a misconception of responsibility.

I become a shadow of myself 
And pretend I'm not there.
It's a battle between my dreams and fears
The winner would decide how I'd fare.

As my dreams finally vanquish my fears 
Confidence clears my mind
I hear opportunity screaming at me now..
"Leave your baggage behind"

                                                                                   -20th May 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013



The Saturday afternoon sun was not helping. I was trying to compose my first poem for her. The heat overhead was sapping out all that feel-good-feeling I felt for her. I mean, it had been just two weeks since we were together-officially. I was hugely keen to seal the deal further with a good poem( I seriously hoped she would appreciate poetry.) 

My usual cabbie arrived. We had developed a bond over the past few months. He was the one who picked me up and dropped me home on those dull weekend shifts. He was probably 4-5 years elder to me. We used to talk quite a bit. Bangalore traffic, increasing number of  private vehicles on roads, increasing temperature, radio jockeys and their style, cricket and even the depleting number of trees in Bangalore. But never had I imagined we would connect at a personal level......

"Poem-a Saar?" he asked, seeing me with a note-pad and a pencil. I had scribbled one or two lines and was about to erase them. I smiled shyly. I wasn't ready for the world to know this! Not yet..
"Hmm..what does she do?" he asked directly! I looked at him in a bit of a shock at his apparent lack of tact. 
" I can't expect Software guys like you to write a poem on Nature! It has to be a girl.." We burst out laughing. The ice was broken. I felt no harm in confiding in him anyway.

Ten minutes into the ride, I was none the wiser. I had compared her eyes and hair to stars and clouds..but then they had already been done by hundreds of people in would fall flat. Then out of nowhere, my cabbie gave me the first two lines: 

"I dream of looking into your beautiful eyes
And finding myself there."

"What inspiration!!" I shouted. I was probably too loud.The auto-driver next to our cab on MG Road looked at us in shock. I raised the glasses of the window and noted those two lines down. I couldn't afford to lose them. I was becoming a rank plagiarist, but I had more important things to worry about at that moment. But something else intrigued me at that moment.

"I was a lover once too Saar..I still am..." my cabbie was saying. I paid attention to him out of sheer respect- he was more experienced see. I was in a position where I would listen to anybody's love story.
"Once a lover..always a lover.Our affair went on for 4 years 3 months, 21'll start counting the days too" he added, at my obvious look of awe when he mentioned the precise time-frame.
"She was not exactly beautiful. Good looking you may say. But her attitude...Sakath Saar"

"Where did you meet her first?" I asked.
"It was in the rainy season Saar. In a small umbrella she was sheltering 3 little kids, while standing in the rain herself." 

"I wish I could meet you every day
 You have always taken my breath away!". Two more wonderful lines. This guy was talented.

After pausing for two minutes, he continued. "Your character is what you're doing when no one is looking at you Saar. She was helping those kids and she didn't expect anyone to notice her. She wasn't doing it to impress anyone. That impressed me the most Saar." He could quote phrases too!

"I parked my car next to her and asked if I could help.She merely nodded. She helped the kids get in the car.She wouldn't get in. I thought that was the end.She didn't even say thank you! I started driving away. But then,she smiled. She smiled just enough for me to see that in the side mirror. Something told me she would be waiting for me at that place. I dropped the kids and returned. She was indeed waiting for me!!That was how it all began"

"Your smile and your ways are just so true
I'd wait for ever and ever..just for you...."Another two of those priceless lines.

"We liked each other straight away Saar. I suppose this happens only with true love. You just feel the other person is meant for you straightaway. We talked to each other for at least 5 hours a day. I missed my trips sometimes because of this. When I told her this, she asked me to stop calling her when on duty. And she told that so nicely. Even now when I start a day's work, I make it a point to remember those words Saar."

We were at a signal again.We could see a young couple. The guy was helping the girl cross the road with his hand a little unconvincingly around her waist. It looked  like the girl too didn't want it, but was putting up with it. Both our eyes lingered on the couple for a moment. The cabbie shook his head vigorously.
"It's all about respect Saar. You should never try and force your feelings and intentions on others.Flowers will always take time to bloom" he said, looking at a tree that had a lot of spring flowers blooming.Between all the poetry, I could sense a tinge of philosophy.

"So..what happened next?" I asked.

"Well...I don't know Saar. Two years ago, she disappeared. Just like that. Her house locked, her phone switched off. She had resigned from her job too! I looked for her all around the city for 3 months. But then,I  gave up. If someone is meant for you, they'll surely turn up Saar."

There was a deep silence. My mood for poetry disappeared too. Though inexperienced in love, I could connect with what this guy was feeling.

"I have two other best friends Saar. Their love story was a success. least one of our stories had to fail. God chose mine" he said. I liked the way he had come to terms with the disappointment.

"I'm sure there's someone waiting for you.." I said, trying to cheer him up.
"True love happens only once Saar" he said."It's very difficult for me to feel the same for someone else all over again. I've decided to stay single..."

I could see the remains of a  rose kept in a glass bottle with water inside. On the bottle was marked a date, roughly two years ago. The cabbie must have noticed me observing it.
"It was the last flower she gave me Saar.It had 16 petals. Every rose she gave me had 16 petals. I'll hope for her return till nothing of this flower remains. Then I'll probably reconcile with the fact she's never going to come back. End of story" he said.

We reached my office."Take my advice Saar. If you truly love her, never let her slip away!". I smiled politely and started walking towards the entrance. "Saar!!" he called out. I could see him hastily thrust a sheet of paper in to his pocket. I could guess what it probably was.

"You're so beautiful and just so divine!
I just want to know...would you always be mine?!!"

 "Never allow her to say 'No' Saar" he said, with a twinkle of mischief.

"This man is a legend". I told myself. I watched silently as his car sped away. As it was about to disappear around a corner, it screeched to a halt. It halted for around two minutes.I could see someone get in before it sped off again

A week later, I was waiting to tell him how successful my recitation had been. I got into the car. The cabbie was grinning ear to ear. The rose in the bottle had been replaced. He gave me a diary. The first  pages contained excellent poetry. Then somewhere, there was laborious philosophy on what the world meant to him. And the most recent pages, contained poetry again- as fresh as the rose in the bottle. For the first time, I could see him blush as he pointed at the title he had given to this work of his. It was scrawled in the tiniest font on the right hand top of the first page. 

                                                                                           -21st April 2013.

"When Love succeeds, a poet is born..when it fails, a philosopher"- I don't know where I heard this. Weirdly enough, I felt this was true, when I heard this cabbie speak. The story ofcourse is fiction. But was inspired by an ever so tiny conversation I had with him.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Mother...for Generations

A Mother....for Generations

Her seventh child had been a still born one. Yet every year, she still prayed that his soul rest in peace. She still set aside a bowl of rice everyday-which would later be kept on the terrace, for the innumerable crows that swooped down the minute she disappeared...

Her maternal instincts were quite raw when her first child was born. But she couldn't turn to her mother for help-for she was dead long before. It was only by the time the fourth child was born, that she began to enjoy the bliss of motherhood. She could feel the tenderness of the baby's head, the brittle little fingers; She could observe each tooth as it appeared and straighten the unwanted curls in the baby's hair. When the fifth and sixth children(twins) were born, she even managed to run the show alone-what with four other kids already demanding continuous attention.

The eldest was 6 years,when the twins were born. Three daughters and three sons-it seemed all so ideal.Each day was special in its own way. When the first kid entered school for the first time, the fourth had written his first alphabet on the slate.When the second kid spoke into a recorder for the first time, the twins were learning to walk-one holding the wall for support,and the other holding the twin. When the twins could finally walk, the family had a group picture taken. The picture still hung onto the brick wall in a corner of the house. Mother looked rather worried in the picture. It was because the second son had threatened to break the tripod once the photo session was over. He had a tendency to break stuff- he had grown up to try and break the household too...lucky they had survived the jolt!

 Mother had had her share of worries too. The eldest was not academically bright, but was extremely virtuous.She feared for him for he was too gullible.The second son was dead opposite. The daughters all turned out to be middle-class stereotypes.Mother raised them under her watchful eyes, giving them what she felt was just the right kind of exposure.The youngest daughter was a talented athlete. But then, Mother never allowed her to blossom. What would people think, if her daughter started participating in a running race and travelling to city after city? She ensured the third daughter married first. Today, she regretted the fact that she had discouraged her daughter. Not that the daughter ever complained.It was probably the fact she did not complain, that made Mother feel guilty. The third son was rather detached.Never too involved with his siblings. But he was exceptionally talented with the violin.Mother had spent a lot of time listening to his third son play. His first violin still lay in her trunk, long after he had moved out of the country after marrying a Japanese-whom he had met on one of his world tours.She could still remember the days when he was bedridden with jaundice. Mother had spent 3 whole weeks by his bedside, neglecting the other 5 children. To think he had forsaken his Motherland, let alone Mother....

Mother was on the verge of 50 years when all her children entered family life. Her husband died just as their first grandson was born-a coincidence that had been almost an inherited trait in the family. He was probably prepared for that-Mother felt, when she recollected her husband's behaviour towards the end. The Mother- children equation changed ever so slightly after that. The eldest son and his wife moved to what was formerly the parents' bedroom. Mother was relegated to a single cot room on the other side of the home. She took it gleefully. When he finally learnt to walk, the grandson would come to sleep next to her. Mother would narrate all the stories she had learnt from her grandmother, adding a detail or two of her own along the way.

Soon, a second grandson was born to her second son.He too wanted to sleep next to granny and cried when the elder grandson already slept snugly next to her. Mother would wake up in the middle of the night to find one grandson sleeping next to her, and the other with his head near her feet. It was a sense of attachment entirely different to what she had felt for her sons.

It was when the second son wanted to migrate to Bangalore, that the problems had started. He wanted his share of property. The elder son outwardly opposed to this division, but Mother knew that he wanted a sense of independence too. There had been many occasions when the elder son had been forced to ask help from his younger brother. Mother could sense his self-respect pricking every time. And she also knew her second son would go to any lengths to achieve his ends. So rather than opposing the partition, she led it. It was probably the toughest decision in her life. But she felt it was better if her children would live far away and stay united, rather than stay together and be separated.

The partition, to her fortune, left all her children happy. She only feared how her third son would react when he returned from his world tour of 4 years.But then, he had returned with a Japanese wife. It was a rude shock when his eldest daughter-in-law opened the door one morning to see this odd pair smiling at her. Mother quickly recovered from the shock and even blessed the couple. In the week she stayed at their home, her Japanese daughter-in-law had tried her best to impress all of them. The family's first granddaughter, born to the eldest son, had grown particularly fond of her. But that was probably it. The elders lacked the broad mindedness of the kids. The third son refused to take any share of his property and transferred it to his Mother. Mother silently asked him if she could keep his first violin with her. To this day, she felt she had seen a drop of tears at the corner of his eye when he left for Tokyo. But then, he had never been one to show any negative emotions. Or perhaps, only his Japanese wife knew more about him....

Years passed, with the Mother reliving her motherhood tending to her two grandchildren. She now had 8 grandchildren totally.All of them would make a beeline for their grandma's home during summer holidays. Mother laughed with them, played with them, cried with them, learnt from them. She would regale them with stories from their parents' childhood and their pranks. The children, in turn, would teach her how to operate the latest phone or read English newspapers. Mother started discovering herself in a whole new way every summer. Yet, in some corner of her mind, she always thought of her son in Japan, whom the grandchildren fondly called Violin uncle.....

So it was mixed feelings that she tore open the envelope containing her air-ticket to Japan, couriered by her third son, one Friday morning. He had called two days earlier and conveyed that he would send the tickets. On the one hand, Mother was thrilled at the chance of meeting her son. On the other, she was not sure she could conduct herself well enough in foreign land to meet her son's expectations. Her eldest grandson, as tech-savvy as any young kid these days, Googled Japan and fed all  the knowledge to his Grandmother's greying head. How she wished she could take him with her!!

She had the time of her life in Tokyo. His son was no longer the detached person he had been, years earlier. He fussed over his Mother's comfort. He had made sure that there was a wooden Puja room constructed for his Mother, even before she had arrived. Her Japanese daughter-in-law was a darling, she felt. She dispelled any misconceptions Mother would have developed about her,in a month of her stay. Mother had learnt broken English from her grandchildren in India and the daughter-in-law broken Kannada.Yet, there was probably no communication gap between the two as Mother spent a happy 2 years in Japan. Even her "Indo-Japanese" grand-daughter developed such closeness with Mother, that she cried through the night when she came to know Mother would leave next morning.

Mother travelled back to India. She was getting used to her usual life again, when she was diagnosed with cataract. Her elder son and daughter-in-law took wholesome care of her. As did her two grandchildren. The other son and daughters shared the expenses, but couldn't make time to take care of her. It was then that she decided that she would spend 4 months in each of the sons' homes and the 4 months of  a year in her daughters' homes. She knew life would never be the same again, once she started travelling. But then, she knew she had to-in the interest of her elder son, who had uncomplainingly taken care of her all these years.

Life appeared in an entirely new light for her now. Each of her children's homes had a culture of its own. And she adjusted to it without a complaint. She had to learn English from one grandson or eat Pizzas with a granddaughter; She had to watch cartoons with a third one or even play on the computer with a fourth one. Through all this, one thing remained common-her ability to accept what came her way. All she probably thought was how her grandchildren resembled her children. She noticed that one of her granddaughters had an inclination towards music and insisted that she be enrolled in Violin classes. It was probably the only out-of-the way request she made to her son.

Mother's 80th birthday was celebrated with a lot of energy. Her third son had also flown down from Japan with his family. Mother finally felt proud of herself. Her decisions, at crucial times, had made the family stay united. Her second son had mellowed down somewhat. Her first son was financially very stable-thanks to his ambitious, hardworking wife. Her third daughter's daughter was a leading athlete in the state-Mother felt her daughter was living her dreams through her daughter, and silently asked her to forgive-a thousandth time perhaps.What warmed her heart most was the sense of camaraderie between her grandchildren. Nobody could make out they were cousins. The time they had spent together in their childhood had led to the forming of a bond that couldn't be broken easily. Mother silently looked at her husband's photograph hanging on the wall. "I've done all that you probably wanted me to do..." she said silently. She thought she saw the photograph smile.

It probably did. At the end of the birthday celebrations, her eldest grandson walked up to Mother with his wife. They prostrated before her. After seeking her blessings, the grandson said " Ajji, she is carrying now. Due in 5 months. If you could please stay with us..and help her in this difficult period...." the rest of his words were drowned in the din caused by the whole family cheering the news.

Mother looked at her husband's photograph again. She was sure he said "I want you to stay there...and be the Mother of one more of my generations..." 
                                                                                               -5th April 2013

-Wonder why it's always Ajji mane(Granny's house) and not Ajjan Mane(Grandpa's house) :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Day in Isolation

                                        A Day in Isolation

There is this day every year when I spend the whole day in isolation. I sort of turn the clock back to a time when I didn't have a computer at home -or a smartphone-and was happily jobless. I make it a point to stay away from television, radio or even a newspaper, on that day. Phew! Life-or lifestyle -has changed so much...

One hour into my resolution, I found myself fighting withdrawal symptoms. I felt restless, frustrated and cut-off. I was quick to notice why. My smartphone was switched off and my laptop shut down. It was as though my window to the world was closed. I started breathing heavily. Such dependence on WhatsApp, Facebook or Gmail for that matter! The world of pseudo connectivity that I had built around myself was crumbling with every passing minute.And I started facing stark reality again...

I tried to remember the last time my friends and I went out-qualitatively. We met every alternate weekend. But by and large, the connect was missing. Every second guy would be texting away on his smartphone or taking a call from a colleague. Somehow, the rapport that was missing when we met face to face seemed to rekindle when we had a group chat online every night! I feared we would at sometime stop meeting and make the Instant Messengers our permanent haven!

Six hours into my resolution, I felt a little better. Some calm was setting in. I was sort of out of the depression that had engulfed me hours ago. The day was meant to be a day for rediscovery. I wanted to ensure that I achieved my objective. I went to my book shelf and picked a book I loved most. I dusted the covers and flipped through the pages. The scent was so pleasant! I had almost forgotten how a book smelled. The rustle of paper as I turned the page; The joy of the afternoon sun peering in through my window to light the lines of the book was something I had long forgotten. Not that I was reading after a long time. But I was feeling a real book in my hands after a long time! I cursed myself for having resorted to PDFs on my smartphone and Laptop which I used to read. And more so, the habit of reading to kill time as I travelled for an eternity to and from work.

Work.How it had changed my life in just more than a year! For the first time that day, I had time to reflect how the equation had changed over time. I had started off enthusiastically. Then developed a love for my work. Sooner than later, I developed a hatred for it. But before I realised all these phases,my relationship with work was in a can't -live -with -or -without phase.Checking mails on Outlook turned from a chore to passion to obsession! I was never a huge fan of money, yet work was something that I currently gave prime importance in life.

Prime importance. I pondered over the word for 15 minutes, 10 hours into my resolution. I mean, did I have anything else to give importance to?? It was half hour of introspection. I turned myself inside out. There was nothing else alive inside me! In some corner of my mind, hidden deep, was a bag of memories-memories of  different facets of my personality that had somehow vanished into oblivion over 2 years. I couldn't even recollect them properly. I pulled my file of certificates out of the drawer. It had been two years since I had seen them. The memories on ventilator slowly came to life as I went through the file. I had missed so much! And this day was slowly giving it all back to me...

 In the midst of all those certificates was a greeting card. 'To "Personality Personified" Wish you a happy birthday! :)' it said. I wondered how I had forgotten this greeting and the person who gave it to me. I chuckled to myself when I realised numerous pages in my diary were dedicated to her some years ago...though she no longer existed in my realm of things anymore. I wondered how this aspect of my life had taken a beating as well. All I found interesting these days were a couple of girls- one on Facebook and the other on WhatsApp-both of them changing their DPs every 10 minutes. The longer I looked at them, the more my interest dwindled. I  was on the verge of accepting that I browsed their profiles out of sheer habit  than anything else. I was appalled at my lack of emotions! How my life had changed....I decided to keep the greeting at a more accessible place, so I could nurse my emotions back to health.

17 hours into my resolution, I felt better than ever. I had played a game of carrom with my brother. I had had a full meal with my family in a long time. For a change, there was no television over dinner that day. We laughed our heart out over trivial things and pulled each other's legs.The whole idea seemed so fresh! I was itching to make that routine entry in my diary. Only, it wouldn't be a routine entry that day. 

As I sat in my favorite place at home after a long time-the sit-out- it was almost a re-birth like feeling. I felt rejuvenated,cheerful and somehow felt my life had a deeper meaning. I resolved to give my life more attention. I resolved to give myself more attention. I opened my diary and went through the last hundred entries.Each one seemed unmistakeably the same-only the order or words would be different. The highs would be a word of appreciation from a senior guy and the lows an escalation from someone else. The pages seemed so dry!And that day, I probably made the most meaningful entry in a long time...

It was the 19th hour of my resolution. I could feel the excitement in a part of my mind about my self-imposed exile ending.I also felt sorry that I still couldn't resist the temptation of switching my smartphone or laptop on-even after this experiencing this elevated state of mind for a day. I mean..I could always contact my friends over land-line..was Facebook or WhatsApp so critical? I questioned myself stupidly. But I knew I would succumb. There was one thing I had to do before the inevitable happened.

I took out a pen and a note pad. I wanted to write. Literally. I was so used to typing on a keyboard that my creativity went numb when I actually wanted to pen my thoughts. They say Creativity is a thing of the mind. But here I was, grappling thoughts in the mind and a pen in the hand-the grip on both of them as feeble as ever!

For two hours, it was sheer torture as I tried to squeeze out my constipated thoughts on paper. Somewhere, the effort must have drained me. When I woke up, it was morning again. All that was on my paper was saliva that I had drooled. The first thing I did after I woke up, was type my experience on this page....but not before I had caught up with my group on WhatsApp..and not before I had updated my status on FaceBook "Back from a day of isolation. Feel rejuvenated". I'm still checking the number of likes and comments each hour. There have been 45 likes and 16 comments.....hoping for a lot more....

An isolation has ended....and an other one has started..

                                                                            --23rd March 2013.

This bit of fiction..would have been the reality at some point in time in our lives...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The God-Man

                                                        The God-Man

His grandfather taught him mythology. His father passed onto him the knowledge of priesthood. Once he took over his father, he decided he would remain celibate. Not that he could completely abstain from the frivolities of worldly life with a pure mind; but he overpowered the urge to indulge- and that probably earned him his respect over the years.

Ramana's earliest memories of childhood were of his grandfather offering alms to a beggar. He had told Ramana "Always do it with your right hand"-why was that.. Ramana could never understand. Yet grandfather's words were orders.He was yet to come across someone who disobeyed them.

Priesthood of the Rama temple two buildings further was with their family for generations now.Initially, the household had flourished. Later on,the family managed to keep its head above water.Nobody was interested in getting themselves or their kin educated in school.Gradually, the income wilted and the debts grew.Now respect was all that was left.And the respect kept people from asking the family to repay their debts.

When Ramana's father took over, the only source of income was the Hundi, a fund box in front of the idol.Devotees would put in a coin or two and if luck permitted, a couple of notes would be there at the end of the day.It was sufficient to eke out a living. But once Ramana's father married and Ramana and his brother were born, things became tough. At the age of seven, Ramana's brother was detected with epilepsy- something that was rumoured to run in their blood. Ramana,ten years at that time, saw his parents run from pillar to post trying to arrange funds for his brother's treatment. And somewhere, this influenced his decision to remain celibate.

Soon after Ramana's thread ceremony, his father entrusted him with the priesthood of the temple and left the world for good. His mother coughed her way to death one winter night.His brother's whereabouts were unknown-having been sent to a city along with a distant relative. Ramana conveniently had only himself to take care of.

He managed the funds he got effectively. He diligently set aside a portion of it for the temple itself-something none of his ancestors did(To be fair to them, they had a family).With the remaining, he maintained himself and also saved a little bit for that occasional indulgence of his.

He couldn't resist the temptation of betting on cricket. Initially it was the charm of watching his friends winning and losing money.The highest was twenty rupees anyways.But it meant a lot to Ramana. Twenty was a lump sum for him- a whole afternoon of earnings.He gradually started testing his luck and intuition. One rupee first;two later on and five, once he felt he had the knack.First it was the test matches. Then the colour dressed one-day games.These days he used to bet when one street played against the next one in his area.
Cricket was a passion in these streets as well. Ramana won and lost money and involved himself in betting.
Yet the respect,somehow, remained intact.

It was a gloomy day on which Ramana's fortunes turned for ever. He was performing the afternoon Arati before lunch when an elderly couple turned up at the temple.
"My son is lost- it's been 7 years now. It's his birthday today. Please perform the Puja in his name..."the lady sobbed.She offered him a lotus flower bought at the entrance.He placed it on the right of the idol and with the intention of pacifying the lady said "Rama, let the old lady and her son be united soon!." He later took the lotus and gave it back to the lady.

He forgot the incident and went about his normal work. It was two weeks later that the lady came back with a man just out of his teens.The father,mother and son prostrated in front of Ramana, praised his tongue and "connect" with the Gods. They put a five hundred rupee note in the Hundi and thanked him profusely.
Ramana later heard that they had given hundred rupees to the lotus seller outside the temple as well.

Things were a blur for Ramana from then on. First people started trickling in. Then they it was a line. Later it was a swarm. Within 5 years it was no less than a crowd at the Rama temple. People came in with this wish or that in mind. And invariably returned some weeks later, with their wish fulfilled in some way or the other.
True, there were people whose wishes weren't granted, but they were a minority in front of the ocean who returned. The unexpected gainer from all this was the lotus seller- as it was rumoured that only lotuses from his shop had the special connect with Rama.

Ramana was now the God-Man.He grew a beard. Held an air of sanctity around him.Started keeping away from people he used to hang around with.What mattered to him most was the that tag of a God-Man.He some times wondered at the way his fortunes had changed in a single incident. He thanked his stars and also felt his family was due for some good luck after generations of a near-wretched life. He sometimes even contemplated marriage and other indulgences he had kept away for so long. Yet, he also had nightmares where he lost everything and was on the streets again-worse than what his ancestors had ever been.That kept him away from getting wayward. He even stopped betting in cricket.

It was a full moon night. Ramana was with his friends after a long time.There was a certain distance he maintained these days though. His replies would be a word;at most a sentence. His friends were the ones who actually benefited more. The lotus seller obviously. The shopkeeper right opposite the temple who sold baskets, coconuts and camphor. His business too had flourished since the temple and Ramana had gained popularity. There were a couple of other people too, who had stuck with Ramana through thick and thin.
To be seen with Ramana was all they wanted. It gave them a sense of belonging to the high society.

Midway through the conversation, one of Ramana's friends took out a couple of bottles of local arrack.
Ramana never touched it. But being the friends they were, he never spoke a word. The lotus seller drank occasionally and the shopkeeper always. Ramana would stay there till his companions' talk started losing sense and leave the place.

That night it was strange though. One of Ramana's friends started talking along a slightly offensive line.
"How is it  that you people thank you for God granting them their wish?Nonsense..." he said.
Ramana was slightly offended. But chose not to respond.
"And how is that God grants wishes? I've asked him a hundred things before...has he granted fifty? at least twenty? Some small thing after years of prayer!" an other friend said."That happened. God didn't grant it" he added. This angered Ramana.
"If God didn't exist and grant those wishes, people wouldn't have swarmed the place!" he retorted."Anyway, I'm leaving. No use talking to you people now." He got up. But his friend pulled him down.
"Prove it. Prove God grants your wish. Has he granted one wish of yours??" he asked.
Ramana was silent. He couldn't remember if he had asked something for himself earnestly. "Ask that God that the temple crumbles tonight. Will it happen?No.Because he does not exist! You, this Lotus guy and the rest are taking advantage of the people's weakness!" he continued blabbering.

Ramana couldn't take it anymore."If I pray and the temple crumbles, will you take responsibility?" he asked fiercely.The others laughed. He sensed that the lotus seller and the shopkeeper had joined in to.He saw a half-full bottle of arrack next to the lotus seller. Without a second thought, gulped it one go and left the place, even as the others roared with senseless laughter.

He rushed to the temple,drunk. He was swaying when he picked that lotus stuck in the crevice of a pillar. He  placed the lotus on the right of the idol and prayed "If it's true you exist..if it's true you grant everyone's wishes...let this temple crumble tonight! Let my prayer come true!". In a drunken rage he struck the temple bell thrice and fell down, overpowered by the liquor.

A couple of miles east, a storm brewed. In no time, it was over Ramana's town. The force of the wind and rain were something that generations had not seen. A thunderbolt damaged the local school. The river overflowed and the whole town waited with bated breath for the storm to pass.....

Morning dawned. The cowherd was the first to see it. The Rama temple had crumbled. It lay in ruins.No one could have said a temple existed there the previous night. Among the ruins lay Ramana, in a drunken stupor, unaware of the happenings of last night.People dragged him out respectfully. And that was the last ounce of respect they showed him. The moment they noticed he was reeking of arrack, they dropped him on the road and summoned his friends.

Ramana's friends cowed under the pressure and narrated the last evening's proceedings. The enraged devotees banished Ramana from the town without a second thought. According to them, he had destroyed the temple and banishing from the town was the least punishment that could be given. They ought to have hanged him. But the townspeople felt they didn't have the right to take a life. Banishing him was the way out.

It had been a week since Ramana had been banished. The ruins of the temple had been cleared. The idol had been destroyed completely. People found a toe at one end, the head somewhere else and the chest at an  other end. A little boy kept the chest at home as a souvenir.

Months later, the boy was in for a surprise.He felt a portion of the chest he had kept was transforming into a head. Some days later, out of nowhere, a hand and a leg appeared. In a year, Rama had emerged out the stone! The whole town felt blessed. The boy and his father now assumed importance.
Overnight, a temple was constructed next to their home. The boy's thread ceremony was completed in a hurry and he was named the priest of the temple.The priesthood would remain with this family from now on.

The boy's father stowed the chisel away. It had been a painstaking effort for an year.

The crowds returned. The lotus seller and shop keeper now resumed their business again, albeit in a different location. It was a rebirth for them. The God had returned. And so had the God-Man.....
                                                                                       -28th February, 2013

                                                                             -Pure fiction. Hope you enjoyed it!