Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I first remember time by the length of the class periods in school... They used to be so long. Social sciences the longest of them all. Then I knew time by summers. Mangoes, road trips, spinning tops and playing marbles and summer assignments at the end of it all... Crushes came and went, followed by relationships... College degrees and graduations... Jobs, relocations...

Weddings, births, deaths... And then at one point, relative time ceases to be of any meaning. When my age doesnt seem to matter to me any more. When people I know start dying. When I realize that the rope has reached the end for people around me and I have no clue how long my own is...

It is strange to see somebody's name in the obituary. Not a close friend who died by accident or by a freak heammorage or something that shakes you, leaves you crying till your tears dry out, not a relative who has been suffering for the longest time with a renal failure or cancer, with life slowly but surely slipping out of the body. A name of a random person whose existence you have taken for granted... Somebody of unremarkable significance in your life - somebody who has just been there, you know... And then their picture comes up one fine day in the hindu obituaries column. And you know that you have turned a page. From now, you have one more marker for time, baby...

Friday, October 27, 2006

the rains

The rains come down
in sheets
tearing the tender petals
off the trees

Had they known what they would get
maybe - they would not have wished for it so ardently, hmm?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

red roses

He saw the roses out of the corner of his eye. She had said yes finally! He was speeding towards her house, a blur on a blazing red bike against the cloudless bright blue skies, leaving the road wondering what could make his bike sing like that. The roses would be just the thing.

He saw the bike flying out and the helmet rolling on the other side of the road. The sudden flash of incongruous movement had distracted his eyes from the road ahead to the rear view mirror. He had just seen the bike, the boy and the helmet separate from each other at an amazing speed. he couldnt stop and help. The hospital was just a few furlongs away, but it would be impossible to get there. He felt so frustrated, so helpless...

Life - so unexpected, nearly as unexpected as death...

Monday, July 10, 2006

rain, rain - go away...

It was the third day since any of them had seen water. The sun was not blazing, shining in a way that hurts your eyes to look at the sky, but the heat was incessant. The air felt blood warm and it hurt to breath. If you kept your eyes closed, you would not be able to make out the time of the day based on temperature alone. The heat would just not let up. The air, the earth, the body - everything felt like they had reached thermal equilibrium. There was no breeze, nothing to disturb the equilibrium of the place. They lay listless in a row, not having the strength to signal the life left in them.

She came out of the house, weary and hot. Today had been particularly hot, not that it had been any less for the last three days. It had left behind hot tar roads and roof tops, melted chocolates, flaring tempers and warm bath water that would't lose the heat despite leaving it to cool overnight. The neighborhood children had emptied the water from the fridge three times from the morning and were complaining that the water was not cool enough. The little one was curled up in a daze beneath the ceiling fan, after playing in the sun despite warnings. He had left to work early in the morning, leaving her the responsibility of dropping of the kid at school. How she had hated going out... But, he had his English mid-term and he was already two points behind Shammu. She to sit with him the previous evening and listen to him recite rhymes -
"rain, rain - go away,
little children want to play..."

So, she had taken him to school in an auto-rickshaw, tagging the younger one along at 7:45 in the morning. She would have to go back to pick him up in a bit. She had to summon the rickshaw-wala again. How she hated him throwing off his responsibilities like that! It was bad enough to have to go out of the house once in the afternoon to pick him up. And it was so hot... The driver had slid down the seat and was snoring, his head lolling to one side. There was some music playing in his vehicle. The fact that he was able to sleep in the heat annoyed her. Even the song irritated her. The heat was oppressive and she thought - "there, he should be happy, sitting in his air conditioned office." He had taken to spending longer hours in the office for the last couple of days and she wondered if he would come home tonight if the heat did not let up. Why couldnt he air condition the house! Or atleast let her dad get them one? Damn his ego... The man was still sleeping and she didnt want to touch him to wake him up. She knocked on the auto another time and managed to wake him up. She had locked up the house, hoping that the little one would not wake up before they came back.

The kid was crying because the exam had been difficult. Teacher had asked him to recite "Four and twenty blackbirds" and Shammu had to recite only "Peter, Peter - pumpkin eater". "It is so unfair. Why should I always get the longest "poems"?", he had asked. She replied automatically without thinking "I am sure you did well and the teacher noticed and it is a nursery rhyme, not a poem!". She had to carry his school bag for him. As she paid off the auto, she wiped her neck with the dupatta and looked up. The sky was starting to turn overcast at the northwest horizon. Her mood immediately lifted. It would become alrite, she thought. As she walked back, she saw the row of plants - tired and lifeless, looking pathetically helpless. It would definitely rain today, so no need to water them, she thought as she turned the keys to let themselves in.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

its just a...

She had resisted for so long and then she decided that she had had enough. There was a sense of fearful anticipation, of what would happen if he caught her in the act. After all - she had never done it before. She took a picture before she set upon her mission and carefully rearranged it before he came back, using it as a reference. One could never be too careful. The last thing she needed was frayed nerves in the house because of some random careless misplacement. She had made sure that not a thing was out of place. He had called up from the office at the usual time after lunch. She had anticipated the call and carefully told him that she was just pottering around the house - nothing much, just chilling out.

He returned from the office, a little past 5:30 in the evening. The traffic was generally bad and she could determine how bad from the way in which he shrugged out of his shoes. Today must have been pretty bad, she thought, waiting as he got through his chores of showering, dressing up and sitting down for his cup of coffee. His eyes swayed inevitably to the shelf, as she set his cup down.

He smiled - So, today was "memories of my melancholy whores", was it?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

shades of orangish pink.

She looked at the box of tiny bottles that the woman had placed next to her. She knew that the woman would be back in a minute with the inevitable questions... Questions that she had never contemplated on before - after all - life was all about trying out new things!

which colour would you like,madam?
light/ dark? bright/ sober?
pinks/ reds/ browns/ oranges/ blues?

She had her toe nails painted for the first time - a shade of orangish pink...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Missing me

I shall be gone today. Far away to a land where coffee shops and martial arts will not strike the same chord in me. where running marathons will be looked upon as a crazy thing. where I shall miss my loneliness a lot. where there is no space for silence of thought.

I shall miss being me for a short while and then my self will coalesce with the larger entity and become one of the masses. And there will no longer be a me. only a we. and my memories of here will no longer have a place. History will be rewritten to suit the present and an appropriate future.

1984 played live in 2006.

A different future...

I shall miss being here for a short while. I shall miss J and N. But, I have missed K for the longest while and I shall be back with her. And I hope to find L and get M. And the elusive H will resurface there too. I live a lot richer for the last four years of my life.

1984 - if it is all about rewriting, this is my choice!

Missing me

A little bit of lonliness
A little bit of space
A little bit of Barnes and Noble and
A little bit of bakes

Coffee shops and J
And office fights...
JKD and N
And boats and lunches

road trips, museums and marathons
sun baths and new castles/ bass
no more telephone cards
nor any more sleeping in on sundays

and I launch on my mission today!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The indian click

Ever heard of the Indian subcontinet happy clicking sound? A three time clicking noise, made by sucking back and pulling your tongue, after sticking the part just beyond the tip to the roof of the palate.

She never knew that she made it, till he had pointed it out to her. Happy today... What will she be in another 54 days?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Being Indian - in Newport News!

It was hard to shake it off. She had worked so hard to wring every last drop of her “Indian-ness” out of her, as if she were wringing out the water from a dripping wet piece of cloth. She thought she had it all out of her. And she took the fabric all the way up till her hands could go no higher and whipped it down, only to feel a fine spray, a mist left behind in the air, hovering where the cloth had been an instant ago.

She thought she was sufficiently a citizen of the world, not to be bothered by shopping at a desi store. She had taken to calling it “the Indian store”. It no longer was the desi store for her. She passed through aisles of dals, ready made bottled chutney carefully sealed and dated, to not let any aromas escape, lipton teas and leo coffees, kadais and belans and the ubiquitous south indian coffee filter, spices and vegetables, memories forming and collapsing in her head as if she were turning a kaleidoscope. She had gone through so many phases in life – from an Indian girl, who thought it was wrong to drink, smoke, and dance; lived in the ghetto as a grad student, worked insane hours, lived with the other people, borne the burnt of the desis, moved out alone into working life, hated the familiarity of the desis, the presumptions that she would fit into a mould, gone through a fitness spree and a drinking spree alternately, ventured into spirituality and philosophy, teetered on the edge of virginity, started to cook Italian and Thai, finally figured out that she was neutral enough to be chilled out even to Desis. And she had come to the corner shop once again, no longer dreading her reaction to other fellow indians…no longer trying to shy away from memories…

What different shopping styles she had seen in her life! Summer time blisters on the feet from running barefoot on hot asphalted roads behind the balloon seller and the vegetable vendor. The smell and sight of mangoes heaped up on the pavements. She would be able to distinguish between the dozen different varieties with her eyes closed, just based on pure smell. The pull of memory was so strong that she let it sweep over her for a moment, like remembering a particular kiss from an ex-boyfriend. Something that belonged to the past, but something that she no longer had to put away in the recesses of her mind as taboo, something she could let go and enjoy a momentary breeze of a memory in the middle of a hard day. As she walked through the shop, she looked at the frozen vegetables and a chill of disgust ran through her. She saw the fresh vegetables – tindoras and drumsticks, fresh methi and spinach, tiny baingans, and thin mean looking green chilies – the kinds that would draw an involuntary tear drop and a running nose out of the hardest looking guy, if he dared bite into it and she finally saw the mangoes. Luscious, big, firm, yellow thin skinned Banganapallis – Dad used to peel it off, going round and round the mango, having one long spiral peel at the end. How fascinating it used to be to just watch him do that!!! Juicy, pulpy, small fibrous ones that she could squeeze and drink the pulp out of after puncturing the skin. Thick skinned, green sour smelling raw mangoes that Paati used to pickle with lots of oil and mustard and spices. And maanga pachidi with a bit of jaggery, a bit of salt, a bit of pepper and a bit of neem for the bitterness and green mangoes for the sourness. She could feel it on her tongue, already. It was supposed to signify that life was made up of all different flavors… She picked up a case of each and walked to the counter, grinning at the thought of the next couple of days. Who was she trying to kid?!!! She was Indian – all the way!!!

Being Indian - in a distant country seems to be all those tiny memories that flash in and out at unexpected moments, bringing back in vivid detail, places and times that are far away. No - I do not long for the mangoes, not the monsoon rains, not the liquid heat over the months of May and June... I miss my family. Miss my friends. But, everybody has moved on with a life of their own. And I go about missing them... That is what being Indian in a distant place is about - the brief flashes of totally lucid, vivid "wanting to be there"...

Monday, March 06, 2006


Blank Noise Presents....

the Blog-A-Thon

She was going to her friend's house for a night over. She was almost there - just had to round the corner, when she saw four of them walking - two on one side of the road, and two on the other. They seemed to fairly young guys, talking loudly and singing popular songs. The road was empty, but well lit. She brushed away the semi-reflexive fears that jumped up in her mind. After all - the road was well lit and she was almost there. What would be the point in turning back and taking an alternate route and she was on a bicycle...

She picked up speed - trying to race through the four of them. Each person seemed to be a part of a well co-ordinated group. One after another, they grabbed her breasts - left, right, left, right. She turned into her friend's house, totally dazed. She hated her shirt. Hated it.

What could she tell her mom, when asked why her shirt was so dirty? Her Shirt? She felt so dirty. Could you wash me in the washing machine too, mom? Dry sobs...

Mom's reaction : I shall get a new shirt. This has become too tight, anyways. And you should know to dress up according to your surroundings. (where did that come from?!!!)
Brother's reaction : I shall drop you and pick you up from school tomorrow. (Will you follow me whereever I go? What if I want to go some place alone?)
Father's reaction : Discomfort about the topic on the whole, followed by a quick exit out of the house for a long walk. (Dont tell me that all men are alike! - I dont want to believe that!!!)

Her reaction(s)

for the remaining two years of high school : Wouldnt go to tuition classes through short cuts, wouldnt go out anywhere after dark alone.
through three years of bachelors degree : took the ladies special buses as much as she could.
through two years of masters : wouldnt date anybody
after coming to the US : broke up with an absolutely amazing person. couldnt let him touch her. The memories still clung, washed up her entire being in waves of repulsiveness...
nearly 15 years and two masters degrees later : Martial arts...

How many women have the chance of pursuing the skills they feel they need to survive in this world? How many women want to live a life of their own, long for an independent identity? How many men will look beyond blobs of fat at the differents parts of the female anatomy? How many parents will actively teach their children to respect the personal space of other beings and to stand up for themselves, if their space is threatened?

Her parents now want her to get married. They dont want her to run (too much sports will cause hormonal problems...). They do not know that she practices martial arts... How much longer do we have to walk this road alone?

Moral support is the least I can give right now. With you all the way!

step forward

What if you realized once you have put a step forward, that you would never be able to retrace it back?... How many of us would care to go on forward? What relationships would exist? How many of us would prefer to stay put in the same position???...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


You might think -
To lose something that you never had
cannot be so bad...
but, when all I had were dreams
and they are unwound from the tapestry,
leaving me with a mess of unravelled strings
maybe it can,
maybe it just can be exactly that bad

Bad enough to envision endless dull twilight evenings,
with neither starry nights, nor bright mornings,
bad enough to dread a changeless sultry summer
with no threat of a thunder storm nor a stirring breeze.

to drive in the despair of a freedom known in the past
but, quite unimaginable for the future
to dream of a love that stands vivid in the mind
but, for sure - never to be realized...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Of 37 books and lonliness

She felt tired. Her throat ached. Pricked from the inside. She kept drinking hot water, hoping to smooth it out and make it feel warm, but instead she was starting to feel hot.

Mommy - my cure all!
I will never be too old
to be hugged and kissed to bed,
I will never be too mature
to be comforted!

I may make the top deals
and know all the inside wheels!
But, my mom knows better
when I am not myself!

Wish you were with me now :(....

Monday, February 13, 2006

sound decisions.

What would sound be like? Would it bring a metallic taste to the roof of her palate? Would it feel like a ray of light seen through the smoke? Would it be smooth, rough? Would it hurt? Would she want it again and again? Would it consume her? Would it wrap all around her, make her feel surrounded in warmth? Would it surround her, tower over all her other senses and squish her inside itself? Will she feel it on her skin, inside her? Would it smell nice? Would it flow like the colors over a sunset? like water out of a tilting pitcher? like the smoke that rose out of an incense stick, like the aroma of chicken broth boiling?

Would she be the same, if she chose to start hearing things? Did she want to be the same? Was she ready for it? Would everybody else hear the same things as her? Will she hear the same things as everybody else? Would people make fun of her, if she did not?

Would she understand what people were trying to tell her? Would she be able to tell people what she thought, what she felt? Would spoken words ever be sufficient? Would she be able to feel beautiful? Would she feel complete, once she made the choice? What if, she couldnt reverse it and things went terribly wrong? Would it be better than what she had imagined it to be? What if it did not live up to her expectations and she couldnt go back to her world any more? What if she got left out and nobody stayed back with her? What if she went ahead and nobody else did and she couldnt come back to them? Verses of poetry, tables lined with steaming hot soups and chips, passionately fragrant flowers, the warmth of a wooden fire - as it snowed all around, the smoke rising through the night and the stars shining above, pages and pages of scores, written in beautiful black ink between 4 lines, the changing hues of blazing sunsets and sunrises, cold drops of water falling on her skin, the soft delicate life in the newborn puppy - everything passed through her closed eyes.

She took one deep breath and drank the Manjathanni...

P.s: This post was inspired from a newly started "audiopoetry" blog.

"the sounds would swell
as pure as the silence."
From Momma - by Yevtushenko.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Wanted -
somebody to uncrease my worries and sulks after a long day,
somebody to hold me, as I sway
somebody to tell me that tomorrow is a new day,
somebody to tell that such tomorrows come with the regularity of cliche's!

somebody I can read Yevtushenko and Neruda with
somebody I can read Tennsyon, Frost and Yeats to too,
if my mood changes!
somebody I can talk about God with,
somebody I can hold tight in the middle of the night,
when a hundred untold fears about myself, within me fight
somebody to laugh with till my stomach hurts and I start to cry
somebody to cry to, when I am overwhelmed by tiny things that seem at that moment, as vast as the sky
somebody to tell me that the even the sky is not to far away, if that is where I want to be!
somebody to dance the swing and salsa with me :)

somebody to try out new recipies on!
somebody to tell that my hair has grown a bit too long
somebody to tell me that I should probably get those pair of shoes,
somebody to teach me about jazz and blues,
somebody to share a puppy; and a pillow fight too,
somebody to taste a delicious Cabernet with
somebody to cook a dinner when I am not up to it...

but most of all - right now, what I want is
Somebody to tell me that it is not too much to ask, that -
all these somebodys will be in one somebody!!!

Living in yesterday,
I hold the fragments together
I wonder - If I let them fall away,
will anything seem worth it, ever…

We go the extra mile
Believing that people will care
Only when they fail to smile
After the deeds are done, do we despair.

I think I have seen it all
That I will never again fall
But after spring comes summer and fall
And winter knocks, with a surprise call

My Grandfather used to love to quote -
"if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"
But in his wisdom, he never let me know
that the seasons come - over and over again!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Comments on "On Liberty"

Book : On liberty

Author : John S Mill

Edited by : Elizabeth Rapaport

Date : 01/05/2006

Comments : This is a dynamic write up of things that impress me/ my thoughts/ questions that the book brings up as I am reading it right now! The book deals with the democracy, the need for it, its definitions and the extent to which people need to surrender their rights to yield an orderly working of the society, and what might constitute the greater of the two evils – surrendering individual rights to a democratic power ruled by the majority (surrendering to tyranny of the majority) versus suffering chaos and having every individual to fight for their personal survival.

  1. P4 : Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs ass protection against political despotism.
  2. P5: All that makes existence valuable to anyone depends on the enforcement of restraints upon the action of other people. Custom is not only perceived as second nature, but most often mistaken as the first too. The effect of custom, in preventing any misgiving that mankind might develop, is all the more complete because the subject is one on which it is not generally considered necessary that reasons should be given, either by one person to others, or by each to himself. The importance of traveling, seeing different cultures and customs and realizing the futility of spending good time and effort in trying to adhere to unexplainable/ irrational customs has to be recognized. Infact, only irrational/ unexplainable actions are classified under the term – custom! If it can be rationally explained, then it has a reason to be done/ not done and no longer needs to be classified as a custom. People, who travel a lot, see different customs and still fail to understand the fundamental similarity of humans and their problems frustrate me beyond words!
  3. P8 : The majority have not yet learned to feel the power of the government their power, or its opinions their opinions. When they do so, individual liberty will probably be as much exposed to invasion from the government, as it already is from public opinion. Would this occur when dictatorship prevails? When a select group of individuals decide to take power into their own hands and refuse to step down/ yield when the majority that voted them into power no longer wants them to be in power? Will the majority ever be subject to inspection, let alone persecution of its values? Is there ever an absolute right for anything? Is what the majority feels to be right, right?
  4. P 10: Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to a state anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion. And who gets to decide that?!!! How does it get decided???
  5. P 32: No one can be a great thinker, who does not recognize that as a thinker, it is his responsibility to follow his intellect t o whatever conclusions it may lead..
  6. P 34: Assuming that the true opinion abides in the mind, but abides as a prejudice, a belief independent of, and proof against, argument - -this is not the way in which truth ought to be held by a rational being. This is not knowing the truth. Truth, thus held, is but one superstition more, accidentally clinging to words which enunciate the truth. So, every person needs to know the truth personally, after sufficient argument with others and their selves! No one person’s truth can ever be another person’s truth. No one philosophy/ way of life/ religion will ever be the ultimate way to the state of consciousness/ awareness/ tolerance and though the world can start from a common point, one has to tailor their religion to suit their growth, to suit their vision. And in achieving tolerance, a person will see that to be intolerant of the intolerant is equally intolerant!
  7. P73 : Everyone who receives the protection of the society owes a return for the benefit, and the fact of living in the society renders it indispensable that each should be bound to observe a certain line of conduct towards the rest. This conduct consists, first, in not injuring the interests of one another, or rather certain interests which either by express legal provision, or by tacit understanding, ought to be considered as rights, and secondly, in each person’s bearing his share (to be fixed on some equitable principle) of the labors and sacrifices incurred for defending the society or its members from injury and molestation. Does the society actually think about how it affects an individual life? Basically, the top echelon/ tier of the society represent the fittest of the survivors and their will/ actions dominate/ determine the ways and morals that are upheld as being righteous at any point of time. And if they determine that a person somewhere along the bottom is wrong, then he is doomed. I find it difficult to believe that the society offers its protection/ services to an individual for his particular sake. If a person is left unharmed, it is more so, so that 1. the society may benefit of his services, rather than for his own particular existence, or 2. he has not done anything/ expressed any ideas that go against the grain of the society and hence, has never come out of the obscurity of the masses. If the people at the top decide to screw somebody, most of the masses underneath them will either adopt a NIMBY approach/ at the most - a sympathetic attitude. Only a handful of people who are capable of facing those at the top will dare to rise against them. And then, the whole cycle will repeat itself again, only - with another set of people at the top, oppressing different causes. The framework of a society provides for interaction of people, establishment of a hierarchy, division of labor and unwritten rules of symbiosis, with the “Society” forming the greater and the individual - the lesser of the two entities. (The society assumes a greater value than the individual, because, the more a person relies on the framework for different aspects of his life, the more he becomes dependent on other people and lesser capable of living by himself. The reverse does not hold good for most cases, since the individual is considered expendable – if not X, then Y; if not Y, then Z! Only when the person is somebody right on top, is he considered essential for the functioning of the society.) If only being at the top matters at the end of the day, and everybody in the pyramid is trying to get to the level above the one they are placed on, then, everybody inevitably is going to hit a glass ceiling at some point, either by being displaced by/ losing against somebody / by hitting the top of their personal achievement curve. So, why should we participate in a false social euphemism proclaiming the betterment of everybody, and lifting of the whole pyramid itself? And even if we did manage to lift the pyramid to a higher level, the relative distance between the bottom and the top tier is going to be just the same. It is a personal survival of the fittest and if fighting is what it is all about, why can we not do it minus the hypocrisy?
  8. P75 : Though doing no wrong to anyone, a person may do act as to compel us to judge him, and feel to him, as a fool or as being of an inferior order; and since this judgment and feeling are a fact that he would prefer to avoid, it is doing him a service to warn him of it beforehand, as of any other disagreeable circumstances to which he exposes himself. It would be well indeed, if this good office were much more freely rendered than the common notions of politeness at present permit, and if one person cold honestly point out to another that he thinks him in fault, without being considered unmannerly or presuming. We have a right, also, in various ways, to act upon our unfavorable opinion of anyone, not to the oppression of his individuality, but in the exercise of ours. We are not bound, for example, to seek his society; we have a right to avoid it (though not to parade the avoidance), for we have a right to choose the society most acceptable to us. We have a right, and it may be our duty, to caution others against him if we think his example or conversation likely to have a pernicious effect on those with whom he associates. True, indeed!!! It is so hard to tell a person that the course of action they intend to pursue is going to cause ill will/ unfavorable opinions. But, beyond judging the person for the sake of our selves, is it valid to “warn others” about their behaviour? Does it not amount to prejudicing the non-educated mind against a particular action? If the person we are warning is capable of individual thought, it would not so much matter whether or not we warn them against the erring person, for they will either reach their own conclusion that the action being committed is repulsive/ dangerous etc. or will decide that they do not perceive it as such. In either case, our warning would only serve as a spotlight to the action, bringing it under their attention for individual opinion formation on the subject. In the case of the uneducated/ immature mind that is yet to reach the independent thinking/ opinion forming level, such a warning against a person will serve to effectively prejudice them to/ against the action. In the first case, the warning is unnecessary and in the second – achieves the exact opposite of what the author is trying to work towards (the development of a free thinking society)!!!
  9. P 103: One would think that a man’s children were supposed to be literally, and not metaphorically, a part of himself, so jealous is opinion of the smallest interference of law with his absolute and exclusive control over them, more jealous than of almost any interference with his own freedom of action: so much less do the generality of mankind value liberty than power. Consider, for example, the case of education. Is it not almost a self-evident axiom that the State should require and compel the education, if to a certain standard, of every human being who is born its citizen? Yet, who is there, that is not afraid to recognize and assert this truth? Hardly anyone, indeed, will deny that it is one of the most sacred duties o the parents (or, as law and usage now stand, the father), after summoning a human being into the world, to give to that being an education fitting him to perform his part well in life toward others and toward himself. But while this is unanimously declared to be the father’s duty, scarcely anybody, in this country, will bear to hear of obliging him to perform it. Instead of his being required to make any exertion or sacrifice for securing education to his child, it is left to his choice to accept it or not when it is provided gratis! It still remains unrecognized that to bring a child into existence without a fair prospect of being able, not only to provide food for its body, but instruction and training for its mind is a moral crime, both against the unfortunate offspring and against the society; and if the parent does not fulfill this obligation, the State ought to see it fulfilled at the charge, as far as possible, of the parent. Most educated people value their education, and try to impart it to their children. And – they generally don’t bring forth children into the world unless they are sure of giving it a decent chance at survival and growth. The under/ un-educated people give birth to children to increase their manual labor capacity as a functioning social unit in the society. This tendency leads to an unproportional increase in the number of uneducated children, while the number of educated children goes on a decline, as the parents want to have only so many kids as they can really afford to have. Unless, the educated people look beyond themselves/ their family and contribute to the society in spreading the importance of education, the cycle can never be broken. The gap between the haves and the have-nots has to be bridged at a more basic educational level. Merely doling out privileges to the under dogs of the society will only shift the pyramid from its current level. In order to reduce the height of the pyramid to the barest minimum required for orderly functioning of the society, people will have to be educated, allowed to think freely, understand the existence of the hierarchy and acknowledge that it is a fight for their survival, everyday.

10. P 104: The objections which are urged with reason against State education do not apply to the enforcement of education by the State, but to the State’s taking upon itself to direct that education; which is a totally different thing. That the whole or any large part of the education of the people should be in State hands, I go as far as anyone in deprecating. All that has been said of the importance of individuality of character, and diversity in opinions and modes of conduct involves, as of the same unspeakable importance, diversity of education. A general State education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another; and as a mold in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation – in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Wer bist du?

She had always known that he would come. That someday, she will have to start running again. Despite the safety of annonymity, she would be tracked down and she will have to run. She was ready for that eventuality. Always slept with her bag packed. Always backed up her data. Left no evidence of her passwords. Of her existence.

It had been so long. She thought that maybe, just maybe - she had been sucessful this time around. That he would no longer be able to find her. Things had been so silent over the last four months. She would be able to disappear into the background and be lost amongst the other zillions that inhabited the sphere and lead a peaceful life.

It had been a silent evening. Her body ached after the physical drudgery of work. But, it was better than to have her identity revealed. She could feel the happiness on the other side of the sphere. She felt happy for the folks there. So what, if she could not be physically present? She was happy that they were happy. As she felt the happiness permeate her, the number came into view. It was hers.

It was as if the happiness had eclipsed her physical pain and then as the eclipse moved on, the light had dawned upon her. He knew. He knew her number. And she started to run. Without questioning who he was, how he knew...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The guilt monkey

He had none to call his own, nothing to protect, no place to belong to. All he had was his rag bag that he carried around with his three worldly posessions - a tin plate to eat out of or to beg for money, a blanket to cover himself in the night, and his flute. He wandered around, playing his flute with the plate in front of him and people tossed whatever loose change they found in their pockets. He had no great ambitions, happy the way he was - with no great cares in life. And then, he had come across the monkey as a tiny baby, abandoned by the rest of the clan. It's lost, pitiful state had struck a deep chord in him. Despite his own homeless state, he had taken it under him. Decided to offer it his protection and care.

They would wander around the four major streets of the town and set up shop under the trees on hot afternoons or near carefully chosen pedestrian crossings depending upon the day of the week and wait for the children to get out of school or for the people returning from the temples/ fields. He had lived with it for nearly 4 years, earned a living by making it do tricks - wearing a pink cap, tapping a drum to the tunes he played on his flute and looking at itself in the mirror, had shared bread in the evening after long days, talked to it about the affairs of the world and his philosophy of detachment from life and love and what people percieved as his lack of better ambitions for himself, had played with it, scratched its ears... They were friends. Then he finally gave it a name. He called it "Kushi" - Joy! They belonged to one another.

One afternoon, he saw him clambering hastily down the tree, rushing back to him from a chatter of his relatives. It broke his heart. He broke its neck. He was all alone, once again. With his worldly posessions consisting of his rag bag, tin plate, blanket, flute, the pink cap, drum and the mirror. The monkey was still with him - on the top of his head. Nobody else could see it. It had a new name, though - "Guilt".