Broken hopes

a yawning gap

of misery sucks in

life and cheerfulness 

like a black hole

a hand to hold 

a shoulder to rest 

a few kind words 

is all that the soul seeks 

yet in giving 

in losing oneself 

there are hidden swamps 

pain, agony and sorrow 

claim life’s efforts to flourish

nay, just stay afloat!

what karmic paths lead where 

what joys will someday compensate

what the morrows hold 

just a plain gleaming vacuum 

of broken tinsel dreams 

searing torn hopes 

a knowledge of nothingness 

thunder, fire and lightening

an empty empty living. 

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Not again

Not again

not another man

who tills the land

tends it with care

dresses tables across the globe

with abundance of food

shall die in ignominy

not another farmer

not another son of the soil

shall be threatened to kill himself

for a few hundred thousand rupees

when loots prosper in exile

when the rich shame in showoff

not another pyre for self immolation

of a poor destitute farmer

shall burn in this country

where spirituality thrives

believers compete for their separate gods

march for icons of the past

fathers, mothers, sisters, gurus and fakirs

advice masses,herd them to ignorance

chain them to inaction

submit them  to mis-truths

tie them to a life of slavish obedience

pit one against another in hordes

and none so brave to stand up

for the man with callused feet

broken soul

tattered clothes

forced to incense himself

for a thousand rupees

in a pyre lit for himself

is there no readdress for the needy

is there no way to reach to those who matter

guardian angels of the soil

soldiers of the forest

keepers of the waters

men and women

who breathe and live earth

curse this progress

break these barriers

rise! reach out ! redeem

PS: Another farmer kills himself. Do we have the time?

 

Kitty is back

Back from the boarding house and clearly proving our fears of being forgotten our dear cat, Messi is a bundle of nervous energy.

Running up and down the chairs and climbing the wall,to inspect the tube light which she had triumphantly brought down with a thud, and peering over the glass window, she presents herself to a ready audience as a woman of the house.

She runs to her table and sniffs for her food.

She checks on her toys and is overjoyed to find them intact.

She purrs at my daughter and allows to be pampered.

While we attack her with our anxiety to ‘see, it’s us’, ‘remember’, she prances around the place and reclaims her space with the eagerness of a squirrel+ a monkey + a puppy.

Messi, is clearly not a common cat, she is neither lazy nor lethargic.

She is a girl who loves to play and demands attention, well, wouldn’t she take after her humans? Purred I!

Not for her the lazing around

or gentle swishing of her tail.

Her ways are of the wind

Her meows angry demanding and questioning

Her tail a tool to test her own ability to solve a riddle

Her food is well, just food

Her interest in all things caffeine undeniable

In her kingdom she alone is the ruler

All others are her servile followers

Waiting for her with feverish passion and attention

Her humans are to her the ‘chief servants in residence’

As she quenches her thirst at the basins of wisdom

She allows others to applaud and cheer her living

If it is self-esteem, self confidence or self anointment

Learn it from Messi, who teaches it best by practice!

 

Of getting together

Thanks to social media, it is indeed easier to stay connected to your friends from school and college. So many of us are connecting to those who we would never have remembered or run into only because of technology and our addiction to social media sites like facebook.

The other day while at Calicut, when we went out with my parents, we as in me and my daughter kept running into gentlemen my father introduced to us as his classmates.

At a jewelry shop the shopkeeper told an onlooker, ‘we are classmates’ and looked at my father with a gargantuan smile, lighting up his whole face and the shop!

My daughter exclaimed, ‘how cute is that mom!’

It indeed is.

Today, after many many days of perhaps not connecting to each other suddenly my college whats app group was very active.

We discussed over a long Sunday, the lives and living of our teachers, pulled each others legs, had some good banter. It looked as if distances had shrunk visibly and we were just around a coffee table sitting down on a Sunday afternoon sharing our thoughts.

This year, I missed attending one of the alumni meet of my classmates at SDA, Ottapalam.

My batch at LSN ottapalam are planning a get together, I hear.

(Ok, so I did study in quite a few schools and more than 2 colleges, thanks to my father’s constant transfer and relocation.)

But what makes these get together-s so special?

Is it our harping back to the past and refusing to accept the change of times?

Is it merely wallowing in meaningless nostalgia?

Is it our yearning for what cannot be?

Or is it the disillusion with the present, a desire to escape what can’t be escaped?

Well, I can’t speak for others.

But to me, getting back or staying connected to one’s school mates and college mates is special.

These are the people who knew us before you and I put on the many masks of adulthood.

These are the people who have watched us at our vulnerable best.

So if some of your classmates reach out to connect to you, do so happily. There might be a reason for that!

Similarly if you want to reach out to your friends of the past and renew those friendships, do so without shame.

True, some of your ‘friends’ may not have time, or some may have their own cob webs weighing them down.

Still there might be someone who cherishes your company.

That said, I really adore my uncle who has managed to stay very closely connected to his school friends till this date.And he is in his 60’s. This particular group is the envy of many and have managed to bring their extend-ing families to get to know each other, and spend some great time together.

One book that celebrated class unions and camaraderie is ‘Born to Fly’ by Nitin Sathe. I believe Nitin’s chronicling the life and times of fighter pilot, Anil Kumar is an ode to the spirit of ‘classmate-ship’- if there be such a thing.

As a teacher I get to emphasize this belief of mine to my students, ‘get together, get to know each other, make friends for life and hang on, like forever, don’t ever give up on each other.’

I am so reminded of Piyush Pandey’s take on the benefits of staying connected to friends and family, the more disparate the better in his book titled’Pandemonium’.

As they say, life is better in good company!

So, which old friend are you going to get in touch with?

 

 

Sinking under the weight of expectations

With loads of work to complete, bundles of assignments to evaluate, conferences to attend, an exam that is coming up and various other assorted challenges of existence, I am totally weighed down and feel the fatigue even when it is holidays and free time, apparently!

Last time I felt so clamped and cloistered in the space of my head was when I was called upon to write an article by a senior official.

Now, it was indeed an honor that I was thought to be fit to write for the prestigious journal but I was unable to put down a single word.

I was confused and worried and very much out of myself, almost incapable of producing any kind of work so much so that I submitted something which was inferior in quality several days after the dead line. And that left a very bad taste….

That’s  how ‘tension’ can get to me….and it did as it is now, eating into the calm composed corners of my mind and creating tsunamis of ‘ I have so much to do’ followed by the deathly silence of  nothing, nothing at all.

I decided to emerge out of this state of ennui by penning down my challenge.

Yesterday, I sat down to tick off a few of the to-do’s from my list by actually doing it, there is no other way is it?

I have also in the meanwhile, enlisted my daughter’s moral and physical support to read through some material and prepare for a presentation.

To my parents, whom I am visiting, I have shared my agony and they have most understandingly given me the first half of the day to deal with my own monsters before setting their demands over my time in the evening.

My daughter has been kind enough to pour the very same ‘encouragements’ and ‘morale boosters’ to me to get me some calm and inner strength.

I do wish for a dear friend to pester and prod and needle but …hmm… no one can be a better friend or foe than my own self!, so I leave it at that.

As always, writing helps me, heals me and pushes me forward.

Right now, I am feeling re-energized to meet the challenges, and kind of feel that I will manage it all, somehow!

Cheers to writing, just putting down words, letting go of worries, thoughts and getting back to the action-mode!

Of coaxing plants to bloom!

‘It is so, very much’, said my aunt, when I looked surprised.

When the jasmine plant in her garden refused to flower even after a year of planting, she and my uncle, walked up and down the plant and made some threatening noises,’It’s time to cut her down, she is of no use’, they said a few times in the vicinity of the lady jasmine and went to sleep. My aunt avers that she was greeted in the wee hours of the next day with the fragrance of freshly in bloom jasmine that filled the entire neighborhood! And this is no joke….

Listening to my aunt narrating her experience, there were many others who shared the same view and have had a similar experience.

At the dinner yesterday, hosted by my aunt and my uncle in their quaint house filled with plants of all varieties including the rather elite ‘dragon fruit’ of  2 types and many more, my mom herself a lover of plants and trees and an avid gardener and my aunts and uncles shared stories of how they have cajoled and coaxed the plants and trees in their garden to flower with a little tease and often some threat!

I look for confirmation and my mother assures me that grandfather would walk up and down his land at Kopparambil conversing to the coconut trees and extracting promises of getting good fruits. Really!

I remember how workers climbing up each coconut tree and accumulate mounds and mounds of coconuts strewn around, with grand father or one of my uncles surveying the produce and keeping a count and agonizing over the falling price of coconut in the market.

The coconuts would be de-husked with skill and the coconut water collected in a huge vessel to be fed to the cattle and some of us who were interested and then a bullock cart would come to take the coconuts to the market. This must have been in early 1980s. There would be a lot of celebration as people moved up and down the place, some providing food and water to the workers, others carrying stuff out of the compound, the arrival of the cart, the hope of impending profit all  adding to the air of festivity.

Apparently, the art of coaxing plants to flower is much researched and discussed topic especially amid those blessed with green fingers!

Like my uncle said with an air of finality, ‘to the ignorant every plant is a weed, to the knowledgeable it is so much more!’

I should know that considering how every time I follow my mother on a garden trail, I am over whelmed by the knowledge of my own ignorance as my mother rattles of names, qualities, personality traits, benefits and other quirks of every grass, sorry, plant on the way.

Those who love the plants, live and die for them are a different breed altogether!

My uncle, concluded making a reference to one of his former colleagues who is also an horticulturalist, ‘when a plant is threatened that it will be eliminated before fulfilling its life’s purpose of flowering, it will pull out all its resources to achieve its dream goal’. Something akin to Paulo Coehlo’s much quoted statement,  “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Perhaps it is true for human beings too, the fear of being pushed to oblivion, to be eliminated or vanquished does sometimes bring out the best in that person.

Kitty @ the boarding

We wondered for days about our travel. How would we do that? What about our kitten? It was not possible to take her along with us. As the day for our travel neared my daughter was very apprehensive, ‘Will she forget us mom?’, she asked again and again.

I had smartly delegated the task of finding a suitable pet boarding to my daughter. She did her research, called up, asked around and found a suitable place.

Messi watched us quietly as we packed our bags. Every now and then she came running to check what was happening.

‘Is she feeling suspicious?’, we both felt a sharp pang of betrayal. ‘It feels like cheating her!’

Finally, we reach the pet boarding house, there are many cats at the place, the young man who runs the center looked as if he knew his job. ‘I take my cats for pet shows’, he showed us his many medals, we felt reassured, watching his banter with the cats,some of which were his own. ‘Some times people just drop their cats and go’, the owner mused, as we filled the forms and completed the formalities. A very small sickly kitten tried to nuzzle on to my feet, ‘that is a rescue’, he said.

While returning from the pet boarding we were quiet, ‘will Messi be fine, will she remember us, when we come back?’

When we entered the silent house we both realized our shock at not finding her around.

But this had to be, if only for a few days.

Ciao, Messi, much love!