21 Years in Madras

IMG_20190623_111930.jpg

May 1, 1998, the day I landed in Madras Central Station with my mother. Bag and baggage we arrived, giving one last shot at reconciliation with my estranged father.
Just how much has changed in these 21 years?

My mother is no more. My father with whom I never had any paternal love abandoned us nearly eight years ago.

School, college, part-time jobs, full-time jobs, tenant, house-owner, loan-taker from the bank, tenant again, so many adjectives have added on to describe oneself. At a point in time, one realizes that perhaps one needs to hit the ‘reboot’ button. I have always stated that Madras made me a man even when I was a boy / teenager. After having lost the one person who mattered the most to me. A house that I bought just to keep her happy now remains locked like a museum of memories. This city now is full of memories that in hindsight only bring pain or artificial comfort.

It is time to bid goodbye and start life afresh. I don’t know where, I don’t know when, but I do know that I must. Need to sort out things on the professional front, need to streamline things on all the loans that need to be repaid.

Have to run… go far away from this city, its people, all the memories associated with this city that welcomes everyone and gives wings to their dreams. My dreams have only ended in nightmares that continue to plague my mind. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I can’t resort to stimulants that put me to sleep.

I need a new beginning – a Punarjanmam – stay tuned for more updates.

Till we meet again – vanakkam and nandri.

2018 – A Gratitude Post

Survived one more year.

Amma was hospitalized three times for various complications.

We weathered the storms.

Akka helped each time by spending some time and helping Amma recover.

Conducted Language & Communication Workshop in a legendary college in Chennai

Despite having my own house, moved to a rented accommodation to facilitate easy access to the hospital.

Multiple weddings in the friends circle. KP’s wedding in Pondy. Gokoulane’s wedding in Thiruvotriyur.

Dr. Sai got engaged and it was a great feast 🙂 He is getting married in 45 days 🙂

Visited Thirunelveli and Thiruchendur and participated in the Holy Pushkaram of the Thamaraibharani river. Thanks to Bragadeesh.

Watched “96” in an old-world theatre in Thirunelveli 🙂

Tracked down a family in a village between Thirunelveli and Papanasam that makes and sells “theratti-pal” (a condensed milk sweet) and bought the sweet.

Saw “Joseph” – for me the best movie of 2019 – an investigative thriller with an unlikely hero.

My trust in large hospitals was lost and kind of regained. Still scared of most specialists… who have vastly divergent opinions.

Made it to a book-group meet and gifted books to some friends and also received books from them.

Year ended at the hospital again like the previous few years. No sign of deliverance. The battle continues.

Work is good – lots to do.

Let us hope for a better year.

One Moment of Madness

Why is it that the heart still bleeds?
Despite knowing very clearly,
That this was never meant to be;
Why like a fool,
Did I even dare,
To walk up to you?

Despite knowing with all my powers,
That I am a loser and a failure,
And you would mock me for sure,
Why did I even choose to ask?
Once a fool, always a fool.
This is the irony of life.

All I did was make,
An enemy for life,
How fickle is the mind?
All it does is take one,
One idiotic moment,
To ruin everything!

Bitterness is all that remains,
It increases in quantum,
With every passing moment,
And nothing placates the anguish,
The pain within that burns the heart.
No end to this foolish charade…., no end at all!!!

Come September

It is about five minutes past four in the afternoon or early evening, as I sit down to type this. A lot has happened in the last two months. Equations have changed, daggers drawn, daggers sheathed back, trust broken, trust regained, friends lost, friends gained, friends lost forever. It has been a strange two months, in more ways than one. I have shifted jobs after nearly six years of service in one organisation. At the new place of work, there is a lot to learn and implement, gain the trust and respect of colleagues, plan things, get work done, a lot of trust has been placed upon me and every single time from day one, the biggest fear has been that I will let down the ones who trust me the most. For all that I remember, the fear of failure and ridicule has driven me a lot in everything that I have done for the longest time that I can remember. I have been pushed to the corner literally and figuratively many a time and I have overcome challenges to focus on life.

This year so far has drained me out tremendously, I started the year with hope that I would set things right on the personal front, but everything that I do has returned to torment me like an evil nightmare that never stops. I thought I made peace with my past, but by some weird coincidence a bit of my past comes back and again I have to run, speak to people, calm things down. Friends have always appreciated my phenomenal memory power, but I seem to be forgetting a lot. The day I saw “Thanmatra” I was sure that I would go down Rameshan Nair’s way and like a weird premonition the memory lapses are recurring, a favourite book, a movie or a song, or an answer to a question or an important phone number, things are fading. The mirror does not lie, I try to run a bit the knees hurt, gradual exercise, patient breathing, controlled diet, nothing works, the waist expands like India’s economic debt.

For over 20 years, I have believed that I will write a novel of consequence, something that will be a treasured piece, but all I have managed to do is create a pseudo-aura of a pontificating puritan who just finds errors in what others write. When others come to me for advice, I wonder – “What do you see in me; that ensures you that you have come to the right person?” – I keep these thoughts to myself and help others.

No point in harping about Amma as she keeps vacillating between ill, very ill and forever bossing me around to get things done at home! One fine day, I am just going to stop, point at the sky, say “God told me to stop listening to you”, look at her and say, “I have a life as well”. As you know very well, all this is imagination and will never turn to reality.

Externally everything seems fine, but internally there is a deep-rooted melancholy at the inevitable tragedy that the visions foretell.

Come September,

Come embrace me,

In your comfort,

Far away in a world,

Where light and cheer spreads,

Flowers bloom and brooks babble,

Away from the madness,

Of the mundane chores,

Of an existential crisis,

And a battle for survival,

I hope to find peace.

Here’s wishing you a positive, fun-filled, productive and awesome September!

Promises Kept

How easy it is,
For you to judge,
Without knowing even,
A semblance of what transpired?

How easy it is,
For you to spew venom,
With such intense hatred.
It really pains me.

That despite my best intentions,
Despite being honest,
Despite not harbouring any malice,
Or any ill-will to you.

All I get is a bunch,
Of hate-mail and curses.
It is perhaps my destiny,
To remain misunderstood.

This is a curse,
That landed on my head,
And shows no signs of going.
I shall never be good enough.

I know that for a fact now,
So many people, can’t be wrong, right?
I am a two-faced hypocrite,
A liar, a rogue and a villain.

Yes, this is what I deserve,
For trusting you,
This what I deserve,
For keeping my promises.

I am a failure,
Nothing more, nothing less,
Each time I make an effort,
To move out of a quagmire;

I get pulled into,
A web of quicksand,
That traps me tight,
And all I do is sink.

I know you are reading this.
Relishing the joy,
Of reducing me to this state.
May you find what you wish!

Yours truly..

Dear Ones,

If I have to defend,
Each and every deed,
That I do,
If you fail,
To understand, why I,
Do things the way,
They are done?
Despite being patient,
To a fault,
You seek to create,
Mirages of your own,
Then I am sorry,
I feel that I have failed you.

You have a wonderful,
Group of people,
Who will always be with you,
Alas! I am not one,
Who is ‘man enough’ to crack jokes;
When others mock; its perfectly fine,
I am just a vile man immersed in his own ego.
I understand, I am not good enough,
For all your intellectual stalwarts,
I am sorry I am not good enough for you.

It does not make sense,
To go on with this.
It’s not my circus,
It’s not my menagerie.
There are enough visionaries,
To do a swell job,
For a way-farer, who was pulled,
Into this – I have tried my best.
But then I am still a failure.
Despite everything, I am just,
One big fat zero.

I will stay away,
I had a life before,
I lead a life now,
And I have to lead a life after,
So farewell to all of you.
Good wishes as always,
May all your dreams come true,
May all that you dream and desire,
And deserve – be granted unto you.

Yours truly,
A failure who deserves to lose.

Hope and a Little Sugar

Well we are into the seventh month of 2016. A phenomenal year in many ways. More final farewells, more of marriages of friends, making new friends, separation from a lot of friends and life goes on. Cheated death again, and kept wondering, one moment was all to have ended everything! Reality of life – don’t chase a dream – a person or an ideal – that is never meant to be yours! Or rather – chase a dream – a person or an ideal – if you are sure you know them properly!

samarpanam.jpg

Nothing has changed,
I look back at,
Scribbles in my diary,
From a decade back,
The pain, the doubt,
The anger and the loneliness,
Is as deep as it always was.

Illness is taking a huge toll,
My mother’s psychological trauma,
Is manifesting into too many,
Physical worries and health problems,
The doctor says she has to stop worrying.
She says she does not worry.
She just exists!

I am at a loss for words,
Going about in circles,
From one doctor to the other,
Setting a pattern in medicines,
To offer some relief,
Nothing has changed,
Other than the fact that we are now alone.

It’s been about five years now I guess,
Dad’s in his own world,
Happy with his bottle of rum,
Wearing a cloak of divinity,
And going about on yatras!

Everyone is happy,
In their own little worlds,
Am I happy?
I don’t know.
Am I sad?
I don’t know.

When someone asks me –
How are you?
I have started to say-
“I am alive!”
It cuts down other queries.

Prayers, rituals, ceremonies,
Visiting temples, searching for tranquility,
Churches, mosques and monasteries,
Nothing offers clarity,
If there was a God,
Would there be pain?
Would innocent children die?

Rambling away and away,
Like a drunken,
Old monk – I write aimlessly,
She lies in front of me asleep,
I wonder – where did I go wrong?

Breathe in and breathe out,
And returning to reality,
All these questions are pointless,
Life has to go on.
The bills have to be paid,
The EMIs have to be paid.

No travel, no merry-making,
Point A to Point B,
Life like a pendulum,
Goes back and forth.

After so many stanzas,
You dear reader,
If you are still reading,
Thank you,
May God bless you!

Probably the annual report,
May offer a glimmer of light,
Some happiness and joy,
Instead of this boring,
Dull, dry and sad verse.
Hope….that’s all that remains!

On the Needle’s Edge

Where is the time,
To sing, to dance, to be joyful,
And spend merry moments,
And magical moments with friends?

My life is now defined,
By a single needle’s edge,
18 units of insulin in the morning,
And 12 units of the fluid at night.

Life revolves around medication.
You are forever in a state of worry,
Rushing from task to task,
Worried about delayed trains.

Your only goal in life,
Becomes reporting to work on time,
Getting work done, and returning,
To put the injection as early as possible.

No time for social engagement,
No time for friends,
No time for merriment,
No time for myself.

Just a constant state of chaos,
Going through life,
Like the aimless stream,
That dies in the woods,
Before it reaches the sea!

After 14 Years

May 29, a day to remember!

The day when despite a hundred problems, Nadogial Sasikumar range ku yaerangi nadathi vaecha first kalyanam.

14 years have gone by!!!

How time flies??

Annaiki, the parents from both sides cursed me and my gang of desperadoes – “Dei, sathiyama urupada mattengaeda, paethavanga vayathu-aerichal summa vidadhu ra!”

Yaendha naerathula sonnangalo theriyalai. The desperadoes are each in a different continent!

The runaway bride and the groom are happy,settled in a faraway land. Both families have not managed to let go of their respective egos and family pride.

After 14 years, groom’s mom is no more and bride’s dad is no more! Still the anger, resentment and anguish remains.

Yaendru theerum indha jaathi-vaeri!!!??

The final punch – vaazhkai da vaazhundu kaatu!!

 

On Time and Silence

I look at the pile of books that I have to finish reading. It is at 127 and these are actual physical books, not the loads upon loads of e-books downloaded from various places. I have a bad, bad habit of hoarding books, those who have visited my house will sigh at the sheer mess that one full room is with box upon box of books in addition to a closet full of books.

There was a time when I used to read three books in tandem. One while travelling, as an actual book, one on my phone and one at home. Now finishing one book itself is becoming a chore. Too much time is being spent on Facebook and Twitter and the other beast WhatsApp. For over two decades, I have been writing stuff in notebooks and diaries, every time I think I have finished something of consequence, I chance upon a published work that seems to have my tale’s plot. The number of diaries and books that have been pushed to the ‘kabadiwala’ would run into about a 100 by now.

I honestly don’t know what I am doing!

Writing pays my wages! It always has – content – in some form or the other, creation, analysis, editing – content has paid me all along. After five long years, actually nearly six years, I bid goodbye to my current firm and count my days here. I am shifting to another firm – again a content-driven role in a different industry.

Still there is no clarity or purpose in life. That intense feeling of never having lived up to one’s potential and for having grimly resigned to a mediocre life, sticks out like a sore thumb. Mindfulness, positive thinking, happiness quotient, karma-yogi, workaholic, dependable finisher these are terms that float about in the air.

The fear that all this could end in one moment, the visions that keep haunting me, the unbearable heaviness of knowing that I count my days keeps coming back like a sharp edged sword that pierces the space between my lungs.

I think it is time that I bid goodbye to a lot of things and a lot of people. I have been always someone who has counted the blessings that I have received despite all the pain that I have experienced.

I have always believed that there will be a glimmer of light, some hope to keep pushing forward.

As I look into the mirror, I do not see my reflection, I see the image of a man who has resigned himself to his fate. I am not even a shadow of my former self.

People are attending film appreciation courses, a lot of people are preparing for their marriages, others are taking baby-steps into parenting, legends are travelling from mountains to seas and deserts and beyond, people are working in movies and TV serials. Everyone seems to be in the thick of action. Picture-perfect smiles, everything seems to be perfect in this world. I know there are many a bit of heartbreaks.

Intense pain, passion, reflection, hard work and pure skill that are masked by the smiles.

But still – I go back to that existential question – what is the purpose of this life?

I who could have been born a monkey, a pig, a snake, a wolf, an ant, any damn thing – but instead a human who can think; what is the purpose of this life??

Facebook, Twitter, this blog, or my work in the corporate sector, my family (just my mother), my very limited circle of friends, all my enemies from another lifetime, the massive library of books and movies; none of these entities hold the answers.

The problem with the brain is it that it chooses to hold onto memories; despite wanting to let go of bitter memories, they are the ones that keep clinging on like a leech that keeps sucking blood, bit-by-bit growing in size to become a cancerous tumour.

Some time to sort out some things that have been initiated. Then it will be the Long Goodbye! Away from the madness of the digital slavery that we have become accustomed to! Some sort of closure to satiate the Dr. Faustus within who sold his soul to Mephistopheles.

Then a flash of light and silence, all pervading silence that sucks me into it – forever!

Thoughts on Mother’s Day

My timeline on Facebook is flooded with sentimental posts, pictures and quotes all celebrating motherhood. How does one define one’s relationship with one’s biological mother, or the mother who adopts us, or teachers who become mothers and guide us? It is very difficult to define this bond.

When a lady bears you in her womb, goes through hell to deliver you bearing a whole lot of pain; a part of her dies to bring you into this world. That umbilical cord that binds you to your mother is a special bond! In times gone by when adventures on the high seas and travelling by ship was the only way to discover new lands, umbilical cords were coveted among sailors as a lucky charm to keep them safe. Sailors believed that the cord would keep them safe, the cord was fashioned into a charm or amulet and worn by sailors!

There are some close people whom I know who share an angry relationship with their respective mothers, it is out of distrust and misunderstandings that snowballed into a rift boosted by the egos of the parties involved! I have had the task of setting alight the funeral pyres of distant cousins and family friends as the son/daughter in question was stuck abroad and could not make it to India in time for the last rites. I have had people breaking down to me over Skype and on the phone; cursing the very moment they chose to go abroad! I had a friend who said, “Mahesh amma oda pavizha-kallu padicha mookuthi irukkum da, adha mattum yaenakki anuppi vei da! I want it to keep reminding me that I let her down!” Incidents like these are many! There was the best friend of a time gone by who completely ended up a “penn-koandhan” toeing every line his wife said and ditched his mother in an old-age home; she died broken-hearted! The idiot just came and completed the last rites; when he lit her pyre that’s when he broke down completely! “Matchaan, thappu panitaen da, paeriya thappu panitaen, Meena pinnadi sithi ipidi vitutatenae yaen Amma va! Paava manippaey illai da yaenakku!”

It becomes a worry for me if my mother fails to answer the phone! Morning once I reach office, I call and confirm she is fine, evening once I step out of office I call her again. There have been times when she would be in a drug-induced sleep and would not answer the call, I would worry a hundred different things and keep calling every ten minutes till she would reply.

I have let go of many opportunities for her. There have been numerous wedding proposals that have come through! Without batting an eye-lid the girl’s parents would ask – “Amma va vittu thanni kuduthanam varanam thambi!” I would say – “Nadakaratha sollungo, ponnu ku vaera maapalai a paarungo saar!” Friendships that could have blossomed into something more concrete and and an actual love story; got cut short! Opportunities to go abroad have been sacrificed!

When an entire clan stood against us, asking us to give one more chance at redemption (after umpteen earlier chances), I firmly put my foot down and was in a way black-listed by a whole group of “well-meaning relatives”. We battle, every day, within and without, illnesses, medicines, food, cooking, choice of fruits to be offered to the Lord for prayers!

We battle every day with each other and others.. life goes on!

One wonders if it was all worth it??

All I want to tell you readers out there is – “Some battles are worth it and some battles are not worth it!” Don’t end up doing something that you will regret all your life. One day you will have to set your closest ones free! So cherish this moment with them!

Tomorrow may not come….