A Letter to Our Unborn Child

I love reading poetry and have had the good fortune to attend ‘spoken word poetry sessions’ as well. A common trait that I have noticed among some remarkable women who recite brilliant verse is the topic of ‘Abortion’. It is always the man who is painted the villain, it could be a lover, an abusive husband, or the off-shoot of a dalliance that was ‘un-protected’ and now abortion is the only choice. It set me thinking. Can there not be a poem from the man’s perspective? Not as a rapist, an abusive husband, or an irresponsible lover, but as a genuinely caring husband or lover or partner.

 

Dearest child,

The seed of our love,

You will never read this,

You will never see us,

You will never know us.

We had so many plans,

Your mother and I,

If you were a baby boy,

We would have named you Moksh.

If you were a baby girl,

We would have named you Neha.

But it was not meant to be.

The gynaecologist was clear,

The reports were not conducive,

There was no assurance of a safe delivery,

And I was not prepared to lose,

Both you and your mother.

 

We spoke to each other,

Consoling each other,

The gynaec said,

It was not safe,

To attempt another delivery again.

We wondered why??

Why we had been chosen to undergo this trauma?

Neither of us had harmed anyone?

We had been true to each other.

Placed our faith in the Gods we chose to worship.

But it was not meant to be.

That fateful day when decided to set you free,

Both your mother and I,

Were in tears, but we had to set you free.

Somewhere in another dimension,

We are a happy family.

Our dear little unborn child,

I want you to know,

That both your Amma and Appa,

We love you!

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Bathing Amma

Her skin is brown,
Scars and marks,
The surgeon’s stitches,
Leaving a gentle trace,
Memories of a Caesarean delivery,
That allow me to type,
And share this today.

The water is hot, scalding hot.
I start by pouring a bit,
On her feet, she says – “It’s hot”.
I mix tap-water and then ask her,
To touch and feel the water,
She says it is just right!
We start slowly.

She sits patiently on the stool,
Like a priest in a temple,
Who bathes the stone idol,
Of the merciful and all powerful Goddess,
I pour the water slowly,
The fragrance of Hamam soap,
Permeates each pore.

Memories of a childhood,
Of happier times,
Of a life, when worries,
Had not begun to erode,
This body and mind,
Of oil that would be applied to the head,
And we would be given the customary Saturday bath.

How time changes everything?
I see her crumbling,
Bit by bit in body and soul.
But we have to remain strong.
She has fought enough battles all her life,
This is a battle that the two of us,
Are fighting together.

I am sure she shall come out victorious.

Thoughts on a Death

We moved to a new apartment within city-limits away from the village that has been home for a long time. The shift was because of Amma’s frequent hospitalizations. The new apartment cuts down travel time and in an emergency I can reach the hospital in under 30 minutes.

Yesterday evening my sister who has been with us for over a month now said that there has been a death in the opposite flat. It was an elderly gentleman about 70 years of age. I had seen him in the morning as well when leaving to office and smiled at him. A man of few words he always sat in the front room looking at all the happenings in the corridor. As soon as I reached home I went to their flat. He had been laid to rest in the ice box and the ceremonial lamp had been lit. The elderly ladies in the family said – “He was fine, eating snacks in the evening watching TV, he went to the bathroom, collapsed and died instantaneously.” Deaths are a strange thing to handle, one does not know what to say and console the bereaved. One offers prayers and support and says – “Please let me know if I can be of any help.”

They are still waiting for his extended family to arrive. They are spread across the state, anytime during the evening the body will go on its final journey.

As I move in from hospital to home and hospital with my mother, I am scared. I know I have to let go. But this incident once again shows how weak I am and am thoroughly unprepared to handle the inevitable. We follow the doctor’s advice, medicines that seem to make her weaker and weaker are being pumped in – the renal functions being weak do not let us do the angiogram. The risk of dialysis is forcing the cardiologist to keep delaying the procedure. We don’t know what the future holds. Every day starts with a prayer, every night ends with another. My sister leaves tomorrow. How long we will continue to remain like this? When will the next hospitalization ensue? Will Amma get healed? This continuous cycle of endless medication, rushing to the hospital in the cab. Repetition of all the tests and the inconclusive reports, nephrologist and cardiologist at loggerheads about the angiogram.

The tunnel never seems to end…..

‘Shunya’ by Sri M – A Book Review

Over the years, there have been very few books of fiction that have left a profound impact on me. The blog has been lying dormant for a fair while for the want of something concrete to write. Do I write about my recurring visits to the hospital with my mother vacillating between critical and extremely critical or about the failure of finding purpose in life! No one cares about reading dull verse masquerading as poetry of the soul. Political commentary and sports analysis has its own perils. So what does one do? Write about a good book. No further boring you my dear readers. Let’s head into the book right away.

‘Shunya’ is the first work of fiction by Sri M. Sri M is someone whom I was not aware of and when I signed up for the book review program from the good folks of Westland India, I did up a fair bit of reading on him and was quite intrigued.

Blurb of the book:

He appears out of nowhere in a sleepy little neighbourhood in suburban Kerala. He calls himself Shunya, the zero. Who is he? A lunatic? A dark magician? A fraud? Or an avadhuta, an enlightened soul?

Saami—as they call him—settles into a small cottage in the backyard of the local toddy shop. Here he spins parables, blesses, curses, drinks endless glasses of black tea and lives in total freedom. On rare occasions, he plays soul-stirring melodies on his old, bamboo-reed flute.

Then, just as mysteriously as he arrived, Shunya vanishes, setting the path for a new avadhuta, a new era.

This first novel by Sri M is a meditation on the void which collapses the wall between reality and make-believe, the limited and the infinite. With its spare storytelling and profound wisdom, it leads us into the realm of ‘shunya’, the nothingness of profound and lasting peace, the beginning and end of all things.

Set in a village near Trivandrum in Kerala. The book chronicles the tale of an enlightened soul Shunya who lands up in the village unannounced. We meet interesting characters like a toddy-shop owner who is scared out of his wits at their first meeting. The shop-owner offers him a place to stay and then numerous changes happen in the village. We are introduced to different characters in the village and how Shunya Swami’s arrival has a lasting impact on the lives of the villagers. We also have visitors like Kumar who becomes the Swami’s protege, Diana, Bob, the politician who is skeptical at the beginning, the Namboodiri, the young lovers from two different communities, the corrupt church-conversion tout. The list of characters goes on.

This book has a fair bit of philosophy woven into it and works quite well for those looking for an introduction to a ‘path’ or wisdom. The ending seems rushed and was the only weak point for me in the whole book.

I would recommend this book for lovers of fiction and spirituality. Go for the book, you won’t be disappointed.

Buy from Amazon

Happy reading and till we meet again – May you find what you seek 🙂

 

 

 

 

B for Bharat Matrimony

From a free profile to a paid profile managed by my aunt – Bharat Matrimony is a term/product/brand that most unmarried guys and girls would be familiar with in India. The brainchild of Murugavel Janakiraman – BM is one of the most successful brands in India and is the original matrimony portal that spawned other success stories like Jeevansathi and Shaadi.com.

Now coming to my comic relationship with BM. The profiles that get matched on my free profile, magically disappear when I search for them on my paid profile. Now this is a mystery that needs to be solved. Is BM pushing unsuspecting customers to become a paid-profile member by delivering randomly mixed photographs and dummy profiles. How is it that a number of these ‘interested profiles’ lack a photo and have random descriptions. I have had several friends stating how the algorithm that powers the portal does strange stuff. In all due probability it is a set of people playing around with names and dummy profiles to just ensure that there’s one more bakra/bakri signing up for a paid profile.

Poor parents creating profiles for their children in the hope that an American maapilai or London maatuponnu materialises from BM. The umpteen email reminders that keep coming in to the inbox despite unsubscribing, profiles that have chosen to reject you, again appearing in matches list; the comedy of errors never seems to end.

As I sit wondering what next after a long meeting at the bank for some corrections and complications in an existing loan account, I ruminate on the absolute hopelessness of everything. The novel – the magnum opus, the masterpiece, will never get written, the dull monotony of daily existence and ticking of boxes to meet the standards set by society and family will never change. This pointless ranting and writing on a free blog continues unabated. Other than having generous oodles of fat adding layers on to my already drunken boxer physique, the hair on the head is having a surprising outpouring of silver streaks, the stooping scarecrow like posture stoops further as I turn into a veritable hunchback from some old B-grade horror flick. No way is this A to Z challenge going to finish on time.

Till we meet again – yaedadhu ponnu irundha paathu sollunga ba!!

A for Ashwatthama – A to Z Challenge

shikhandi-arjun-ashwathama_dialogue

Image Courtesy – Mrinal Rai

‘The Mahabharata’ for me ranks higher than ‘The Ramayana’ for the examination of the psyche of a multitude characters and how hubris destroys two clans despite the Lord Incarnate himself being on the side of a clan of warriors.

This year the ‘A to Z Challenge’ again decides to wake me up from my self-imposed exile from ‘Teerthadanam’. The past couple of years have seen me go from bad to worse, as the actual circle of people whom I counted to be my friends kept decreasing. With back-stabbing, rumour-mongering, and character assassination the order of the day; somewhere I have lost the ability to trust anyone. OK as always, I meander hopelessly. No further distractions, let’s start with Ashwatthama.

Ashwatthama, the son of the great warrior and guru Dronacharya and his wife Kripa. Growing up in extreme poverty his life changes once Drona becomes the guru of the Panadava and the Kaurava princes and Ashwatthama trains along with the princes.

Ashwatthama was born with a gem in his forehead and he is considered as an incarnation of Lord Shiva and is a Chiranjeevi — an immortal. Despite all the great warriors, it is believed that no one can defeat Ashwatthama. This is in fact proved by Krishna’s cunning act of making Drona believe that his son is dead when they kill the elephant Ashwatthama and conveying the half-truth to Drona that leads to his death of a broken heart as he decides not to retaliate in war and is killed.

Ashwatthama’s rage and fury is not contained and he slaughters as many soldiers from the Pandava camp as possible. His act of directing the Brahmashirsha astra at the pregnant Utthara’s womb invites Krishna’s rage. Krishna curses him that he will roam the forests and mountains for 3,000 years with blood an pus oozing out of his injuries and no mortal coming to his care.

Up in the northern plains it is believed that the immortal still travels seeking some form of redemption or the other. Once in a while, news-reports in dubious local newspapers list the spotting of a strange man with a bleeding forehead. We will never know the truth, but just think, a man who had no business of fighting a war between two warring clans, inevitably gets pulled as his father is the commander in one of the armies and he fights a hopeless war, despite everyone knowing that the Lord – Krishna would deliver victory for the Pandavas.

I sometimes wonder, how this life has played out so far… perhaps, I too shall end up like a nomad, a pointless bhikshu, wandering, seeking a purpose for this existence…Only time will tell..

What Defines a Literary Classic? Thoughts on One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is considered as a seminal masterpiece and is unanimously accepted as the author’s greatest accomplishment. I will be honest, I have not read the book in all these years, despite being a student of Literature and spending generous amounts of money on all kinds of books, year-on-year, once I started earning regularly.

First, how the book found me. So brother Karthikeyan Santhanam landed in India to renew his visa. We decided to meet and Ampa Skywalk was equidistant and an ideal spot. The Annual Landmark Sale was to begin, I continue to hold the Landmark card and was shopping looking for spectacular books in the 70% off and 50% off sections. KS walked in and he held the book in hand asking ‘Have you read it?’ I nodded my head in the negative and next thing I know I have the book in hand as a New Year Gift. Thank you Karthi :).

Now back to the book! This is essentially a tale of a man, his wife, the man’s levels of insanity, the woman’s courage and faith, war, famine, gypsies, love, hatred, death, infidelity, incest, revolutions, science, progress, and evolution that’s spread across seven generations.

See this picture to understand the primary characters in the book.

The book is not exactly an easy-read, way too many characters, different names, lots of things happening, idle ramblings, purported metaphysical thoughts and love, lust, sex and anger in ample measure.

The magical realism aspect seems to be forced. The book was published in 1967 and perhaps would have been a testimony of the strange times then. Reading the book now, it seems to be a laborious task.

How does a book become a masterpiece? Sales-numbers? Quality of Prose/Poetry? Characters and Settings? Marketing? Or a heady mix of all the above? If you are suffering from insomnia, read this book, either you will get a headache and continue to make sense of the chaos unfolding or you will fall asleep.