Sunday, May 27, 2007

Thoughts From Beyond The Line

Silken Nights

Some days, you walk through velvet trees down purple midnight roads, and you look up into an unfamiliar sky, and you see the seven sisters, clearly, like in a book of celestial magic. And then you look down again, and then up, at the northern star, burning in that purple, silken sky like a fervent wish. Something tinkles inside you, shivering, quivering, and then it breaks, shattering like a crystal constellation. You wish you hadn't ever looked up, because the loneliness of the world, the emptiness of the world comes cascading down upon you until the cold air freezes in your lungs. Things are happening, farther away than you can ever reach, on the very edge of your three-span wide existence. And your infinite smallness encompasses you and your eyes well up with helplessness.

But some nights, walking through that very same corridor of trees, you look into the eyes of the sky and smile, because it is within your reach and within your dreams. And sometimes, you cannot see the skies, and you cannot see the trees, and you cannot see the black of the horizon.

It's on nights like these, when my work is done and the next day holds no attraction, that I feel a little lonely. Not lonely for a particular person, but just a sort of deep-seated aching for a girl who could simply exist alongside me, filling my void with her activity. Someone to pick up the phone in between chapters, or sums, or thoughts, and share in a distracted, introspective kind of way the lessons just learnt. A familiar voice that gives a sense of before and after to my timeless evening. An unconscious statement for me to dwell over, or smile at the thought of in later moments. Something to look forward to, something to look back upon, even if it is only a half-moment in somebody else's life. When she finishes…. Before she starts…Knowing that in a room apart from mine, a life I love is burning with the friction of to and fro, of thought and motion and action, makes my own inactivity seem less wasteful.

Empty room in an empty world, Full of things and thoughts and sounds,How is it I only see and hear,The emptiness around?

Where did the time go?
It dissolved in unfinished actions.
It disintegrated in wasted evenings.
It burned in futile retrospection.
It corroded in moist self-pity.
It fell apart in forgotten moments.
It melted into shapeless figures.
It changed into another of life's regrets.

And emptiness remains, a filling void…

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Outpour in a downpour

To the beat of ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head’. To the smell of ‘Saawan’. To the mayhem of ‘Malle’, To the essence of the rain that I see from the perch of my chair in my room, I try to match the clicking of my keyboard. A Strong wind was blowing and a quick peep outside the window was enough to make me smile, even though it was 3 am.

Something about the rain inspires introspection [and creativity], so I took a trip down the memory lane. That’s the power of rain. It somehow brings back to mind things that seem to have, supposedly, lost their very essence. There are hopes that take birth, misgivings to clutch on to. A few smiles and some tears. Happy moments are relived. They threaten to break the threads of reality and transport you to a world that is private. And yes, enormously accommodating.

These showers are perennial. They have seen us running around excitedly with paper boats and playing in their cool waters. If they have brought smiles to the faces of farmers, they have managed to bring tears to the eyes of street dweller. Often they make us rich with the lush greenery and colorful surrounding but rob us of the shining sun. Silently they beckon us to think of all the lessons life has offered.

Of good times and bad. Of days when we wished time stood still. Of loved ones who are no longer around. Rains also supplement a unique transformation of our tastes – our likes and dislikes. Sipping coffee in a dark room suddenly seems dearer than an evening out with a group of friends. A slow walk in the drizzling rain seems heaven then going around on bikes. Long, lazy drives suddenly become thrilling. A rainbow is considered a more beautiful work of art then a Mercedes Benz.

Rains can change moods, moments and people. That’s probably why one would prefer to dig deep into some heart warming love stories than Salman Rushdie’s Shame. Country music, too, scores over rock or pop. Don Williams ‘That’s the thing about love’ could see the magic being emitted within the four walls of your cosy room, while Madonna might have difficulty winning admirers.

So how does a drizzle transport us to a world of make believe, a world where we construct and deconstruct our dreams? How often has the water outside our window made us wallow in self-pity at losing out on some of the best moments and opportunities in life? Thoughts just rain down and not necessarily superficial ones. For rain promise to let us relive those childhood days when there were smiles and splashes while returning home from school, simply because it was a weekend. Days when going to college was better than a vacation, otherwise long awaited. Times when you rushed under a tree to escape the sudden burst of rain to fade away. Moments when walking with your loved one in a stormy night observing lighting was the best thing you could ask Mother Nature.

But darker thought also intrude. Quietly watching the downpour could also make you relive certain moments which you wished had never happened, which you wish could be forgotten or erased. Times of loss, failure. Watching seamlessly infinite rain can remind you of those who were once closest to you. Of hurting those you promised all the happiness of the world.

But the next time you watch the rain, think of all the people closest to you and the nice times you shared. For, unlike the rains which return every year, once those moments are gone the will never come back.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Impersonally Yours

Nothing can beat The Warmth of a handwritten letter

Does ‘letter’ mean only an alphabet? ‘The Letters’—work by Vermeer? The ‘Letters Patent’- as in patent law or a type of writ? The letter has varied meanings. But to me, it means mere communication.

From the medieval to modern times. Man has moved many a miles, mostly forward. But in the matters of letters, the progress has been mostly backward. Just recall the 14th century. We had ‘mounted couriers’, even ‘runners’, delivering letters. Today we have the poor postman going around the town even villages. Facing the hot sun and the cold winter on an old rickety bicycle. With a sack full of letters, parcels and postcards to add on to his burden.

Letters have been written through the ages. And these are not mere ‘winged messengers of Love’ or just a source of news about the near ones. Letters have added to language and literature. They have enriched human thought. Locke’s ‘The Epistola de Tolerantia’published in 1689, embodied a plea for ‘tolerance in religion’. More than hundred years later, Burke’s ‘Letter to a Noble Lord’ was published. It is still considered ‘as the greatest piece of invective in the English language’. At home Nehru’s letters to her daughter have given insights into variety of topics.

But can one continue to write long letters even today? Have we the time? Or the inclination? Or even the patience to read? Pocket permitting, probably some would still write.

Till Recently, Letter writing was next to nothing. A postcard cost paltry ‘Twenty-five Paisa; a sealed envelope was available for about a rupee. Undoubtedly there has been a steady rise in the rates. During my dad’s time, in early sixties, I remember him telling me, sending a ten-paged letter for a mere ten Paisa. Not merely to my mom but to others too. “Those days were good, there was plenty of leisure. Writing letters was a real pleasure.” He’d say.

He has witnessed a steep rise in prices and steady decline in service. To top it all the postal prices have gone up again. A registered letter is prohibitive, even the acknowledgement is expensive.

I sometimes wonder my parents were lucky in a way. They could afford the luxury of writing long letters to mere acquaintances and even to short-term friends.

My dad being in army, He was not always with me. But he always used to write letters to me, and beautiful. Be it the enchanting hills and dales of Assam & Meghalay, or be it the beauty of Thar Desert in full moon resembling sea of shining silver. These letters are a clear chronicle of events, memorials of bygone days. I can really relive the old days through these pieces of parchment.

While writing letters, one used to pay attention to trifles. Put a gloss on faint deed; add a measure of mystery to even a minor matter. These used to be an expression of affection, some sweet sentiments expressed freely. Thanks to the new ‘Virus’ sent by the finance ministry, it is becoming hard to keep the old contacts alive.

Today, we live in the age of electronic mail. Better known as E- Mail. There is no pen or paper, just the lifeless keyboard and the computer screen staring blankly at you. Everything is written and dispatched mechanically, even picked up from one of the available options. No emotions, no sentiments. It does not give the warmth of a handwritten letter. It cannot be preserved for a lifetime. The ‘Virus’ can attack any time. Then all gets lost. In no time and forever.

Old is gold, It is still true. Even the old system of letters is better.