Saturday, December 27, 2003

One Warm Afternoon

Still pond awakened from
its siesta by playful dragonflies
skating on its surface.

Friday, December 19, 2003

The Long Wait

Sometimes when I reread
my writings,
I get these scary out-of-the-body
experiences.

Who is this stranger, I wonder.
Why does he at all write?
Why is he unsocial
in the midst
of joyous chattering voices?
Is he incapable of
communicating?
Or has he shut his ears
and closed his eyes ?
He seeks no approval,
he cares nought for
disapproval.


All that matters to him
is what he thinks,
what he writes.

That’s not how the
others are.

He sticks out unpleasantly,
like a prickly cactus
in a garden of flowers.

Frankly, he is a puzzle.
He gives me the creeps.
I’m uncomfortable
with him.

Maybe one day, I hazard a wish,
he will understand himself,
and all the others around him.

And then, hopefully,I will be
able to understand him.

I am waiting for that day.

It might take eternity, though.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Looking for the Leopard

Last week, I spent a few days on
a peculiar assignment.
Of taking care of a friends
deserted farm, against a leopard.
His caretaker had fled
with the rest of the villagers, scared
of the marauding beast.

Tuesday Night

I had made myself
available for this work,
to get away for
a while from books, booze and blogs.
Even if it meant I had to live in a cage
with the lions, I had felt.

The road to the tiny hamlet was
deserted , dark and scary
at 11 pm as I drove to the farm.
Spent the night fitfully, as I
wound the bed sheet around me
like a mummy to escape the
ravenous mosquitoes.

Wednesday

Morning, I stretched
my legs around the
farm. It was set against a couple of hillocks,
with low bushes and rocky outcroppings.
I scanned the rocks, to see if
I can see the beast sunning itself. But it
proved to be prudent and shy
and was nowhere to be seen.
Felt disappointed.

Walked by a dry rivulet by which I had
once spent a couple of nights in a tent
with my wife, when we had just got married.
The rivulet then used to bubble
with water, and now, like my own
life, had turned arid and dry.
I remember, my wife
had sat and played with her legs in the water.
“It’s so cold,” I recollect her telling me.
“Hey, there is a water snake in there,” I had
lied and she had scrambled, tumbled and fallen,
bruising her elbow.
I had laughed but she hadn’t
found it funny at all.
“You know, you are are a sicko?” she had accused
me, with tears of fear in her eyes.

That was when the rift had begun,
and was never bridged, I realize.

The small tree by which we had pitched the
tent was a huge one now. Nature, left
to itself , flourishes. Man, left to himself,
crumbles.

Afternoon, cooked, ate and slept.
Got up in the evening and felt
sluggish. The first day of
abstaining from any vice, is the
worst to survive. I know,
if I can get through,
I will survive without my crutches.
For a while.

The night is beautiful. The moon is
three quarters full and shimmering.
Memories of the nights I spent here
comes flooding thru me. It seems
just like it was yesterday. But in
reality, eight years ago.

Why did it go wrong? Of all
the people, why, for me?

I realized that I had never thought
so much about my problems,
for such a long time.
I got some answers to some,
and few leads to others.


Slept may be past one.
( I had thrown away my watch,
switched off the mobile,
to make my isolation complete.)
Didn’t hear a meow of the big
cat. Must have been hunting some dog
somewhere, if not me.

Thursday

Spent the morning chopping some
logs near the house. Slept
like a log after that strenuous work.

Evening, got fever because of the
abstinence and over worked muscles.
My entire body ached and shivered.
Had hallucinations that night,
of many wild animals chasing me.
Thought I saw my ex leading the
pack.

Friday

Felt tired and worn out, could hardly
move around.
Thought I won’t make it till
the next day.
Saved by my friend and family
who came to spend the weekend.

“So, you didn’t find the big cat,” they
asked, as we raised toast to the cat.

No, but I did find a lot of other things,
and I raised the toast to myself.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The Revelation

Came back to my town
after a long time.
Walked into my neighborhood
provision store to buy feed for my
starving, hungry frig.
Browsed around,
found what I wanted.

The check out counter is being
manned by an old grouchy man. I look
around for his ever-smiling son, who
normally used to be in the counter.

The man, though having seen
me many times before, seems
preoccupied as he is making the
bill, and does not acknowledge my smile.
As I extend my hand to collect
the change, I ask, “Where’s your son?
I don’t see him around…”

The mans face twitches.
His mouth struggles to
find words. His hands tremble.
His eyes suddenly fill
with tears to the brim, that seem
threatening to overflow.
My heart sinks, as I feel I
have committed an
awful faux-pas.

“He died last month,”
the man finally is able
to prise the words out of his mouth.
He starts to wobble on his legs.
A shop assistant comes and helps
him sit down and she
gives me a nasty “How-can-you-be
so-inconsiderate” look.

I shrug apologetically, and say to her
with my eyes, “Hey, I’m awfully
sorry, I didn’t know.”

But she doesn’t acknowledge,
and takes over the counter.

The son was only 28 and
had had a heart attack.
“He was such a good son,”
says the man, still miraculously
holding back the tears. “he took
care of his wife and children
and his parents, so well.”

I nod. I don’t know what
to say except that he was
so friendly to customers.

But the man is in his own world.
“Whatever I touched, turned to gold,
but God has cursed me when it comes
to my son,” he mourns. “What use is
all these wealth, if I don’t
have my son?,” he asks.

I can’t answer the question,
Because it touches a raw nerve in me.

We are quiet for a few minutes.
It seems so odd, in the middle
of a crowded vacuous evening shopping,
the two of us are in deep, serious thought,
on life and death.

“Do you know what is the
worst curse God can give
a man?” he asks me suddenly.

I don’t know and shake my
head in helplessness.

“It is, to condemn a man,” he says,
“to outlive his progeny.”
Now the tears break free
and scamper down his cheeks,
and he suddenly seems
to age considerably.
He seems not unlike a collapsing
balloon, shrinking, shriveling.

I know I can’t talk to
him anymore. I cannot
lessen his sorrow with
any of my cursory words.

I walk out of the shop, crestfallen.
I feel awful. Here is a man, who
has lost a son who was so close to him,
all these years. A son, whom he used
to see everyday, talk everyday…

What if there is a father, on
whom his son had walked out of,
on some ego problem?
And what if that father were condemned
to such a state?

Ten years is too long a time
in this short life to hold a
grudge. And I don’t want to condemn
that father , if it happens, to
an even worse fate of not having been
able to talk to the long lost son…

Then, that son would be even
more cruel than God.

I reach a nearby long
distance telephone booth.
As a familiar and authoritative
voice answers, I choke.
There is a long
moment of silence between the
thousands of kilometers of
telephone lines. And even longer
distance between two estranged hearts.

I finally mange to blurt out,
“Hello, Dad…”