Patterns of the Night

It usually starts,
At about 2 AM,
A moan issues,
I dread it,
For I know,
She is not well,
I get up,
Switch on the light,
She is in a drowsy state,
In a weird state,
Between sedated sleep,
And a feverish pitch,
That asks her to get up.

I have to hold her steady,
As she gets up,
Usually she will complain,
Utter some lines –
“Why am I still alive?”
Then she will cough,
The phlegm flows,
At times, the fever,
Will cause her to vomit.
I wipe the mess clean,
Put a new maxie on her.

Then offer her a hot decoction,
Of herbs that come in handy,
It will have a bit of medicine,
That puts her to sleep,
A deep sleep,
And I will stay awake,
Sitting staring into the abyss,
Wondering on the unbearable,
Lightness of the futility,
Of this existence,
This facade called life.

At some point beyond 6 AM,
She will awaken,
The pain would have gone,
But the fever would remain,
Over the course of the day,
She will continue to be monitored,
The day will turn to noon,
The noon to evening,
And the noon to night,
And then in the night,
The pattern will repeat again!
The cycle of pain,
Suffering, discomfort and medication,
Will continue all over again.

No light, no darkness,
No sunshine or moonrise,
No joy, no sorrow,
No blessing, no curse,
Like one pointless,
Bagpiper blowing his bagpipe,
In the darkness of the mist-filled night,
I go on, till how long??
The patterns of the night….
The patterns of the night,
They are never ever right,
When will I ever end this fight?
The patterns of the night!

— Mahesh

Sleep

There she lies on the bed,
The gentle rhythmic,
Breathing indicates that she’s fine.
I wonder, when was the last time,
That I slept without nightmares,
That keep plaguing me?

At times, there’s a sustained pause.
She mutters incoherently,
In the drug-induced sleep.
I wake up and sit,
For a while,
And then again lie down.
Nothing lasts forever!
Good or bad – we move on!

Blessed are those,
Who can fall asleep,
Without a pill,
Without a worry,
Without nightmares plaguing them.
Another sunrise, another battle,
In this city of fire,
In the hope of a better tomorrow,
We forge on….

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….

 

Heart of Darkness

She sent me a message on Facebook,
Nothing complex, nothing extraordinary,
Just a photo of her wedding invitation.
She had just typed, “please come”.
I loked back at all those memories.
It was a foolish infatuation,
A Lolitaesque craze for a child??
Or was it something deeper?
At the end of the day!
What mattered was religion!
Nativity, language, caste, community!
It is a bitter truth!
I have had to swallow it.
I wish you all the very best.

No drama, no beards, no drinking binges,
Life just goes on,
From one pay-check to another.
Somewhere a part of me died.
When she called me Bhaiyya!
Does life have to be like this!
Can an adult man and woman,
Only be lovers, husband and wife,
Or brother and sister!
Does friendship have no value?
What makes people think!
That after everything!
Calling one as brother or sister!
Solves every problem in between?

Adieu!!!

Suddenly the year,
Seems to be coming,
To an eventual close,
Nothing has changed,
The monotony, the pain,
The illness and sadness,
The empty void and the longing,
Like a frame perenially,
Stuck in deep focus mode,
Life goes on!!

From here to where?
From there to where?
As lost and puzzled,
As dejected and depressed,
As always with the stoic calm,
The wonderful mask, that comes handy.
I don it now with practised ease.
In fact, the transitions are smooth.
One more year is all set to end.
Friends old and new,
Memories some good and bad,
Life goes on!!

The writing is aimless.
The thoughts disjointed.
Day by day, I wait.
Counting my moments.
Holding on to life,
With a gentle prayer.
Believing that my role,
Here is yet to play out.
Everything could come down crashing,
One moment – one truth!
And curtains it is!!!!

Adieu!!!

What Do I Name This Idle Verse???

The darkness in my soul,
Seeks an outlet,
I have to be honest,
I never was ambitious,
My greatest flaw,
Has been to dabble,
In too many things,
And never master anything!

I write free-form,
Pretending this to be verse,
I dream of shooting movies,
I can’t even sketch a scene,
I dream of wooing someone special,
And I can’t even find courage,
To speak or express my thoughts,

I dream of making money,
By noble and honest means,
All I get to do,
Is wait for the next pay-check,
Balancing the EMIs.

I dream of being true to my dreams,
And what do I do?
I just put on a mask,
Smile like an idiot,
Join the crowd of individuals,
Who trudge away to glory,
Having sold our souls,
To the rigours of a safe job.

It is not too late, yet!
Like the sudden shower,
That kisses the gentle earth,
The child who waits,
For his mother to cuddle him,
The lonesome poet,
Who waits for his beloved’s – ‘Yes’.
There is still hope!

Don’t end up like me,
For life is running short,
Chase your dreams young men and women,
Throw caution to the winds,
Travel the country,
Dance and sing as if there was no tomorrow.
Remove that mask and be true!

True to yourself and your dreams!

April-23

It is the 23rd of April today; William Shakespeare’s birthday, Satyajit Ray’s death anniversary and in the past few years in India; gaining prominence as World Book Day. A lot has been said about Shakespeare and we will let it rest at that! Satyajit Ray well definitely a series of posts are lined up soon. An icon, a master magician with the camera, a poet, writer, musician and artist. For someone like me who spent his childhood in Calcutta, Ray and his creations were a part of life! I digress again, another day we will look at Ray Moshai in earnest.

Coming to the crux of this post – BOOKS – Yup, books that created a life-long love affair with books and characters; this post is going to be about books. The few friends that I have and the fewer friends that have visited my house know the state of my house. Shelves stacked with books, cartons full of books, bags full of books, you get the drift! With my mother constantly threatening me to drive me out if I don’t stop buying books, I seriously think I might have to rent a small office/godown space to stock my books. In a world of e-books and e-pub files and Amazon Kindles; I guess I am still an old fashioned romantic who has to hold a printed book in his hands! Sorry, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks 🙂

Like most youngsters around the world Enid Blyton formed an inevitable part of growing up! Famous Five, Five Find-Outers, Secret Seven, The Adventurous Four, Mystery Series were all devoured and one longed for picnics and adventures with sumptuous spreads of scones, buns, sandwiches, jams and ginger ale!

As one grew up the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Three Investigators garnered interest. How many of you remember the S.E.Paces series of abridged classics that would be a part of the English syllabus. They opened our eyes to classic tales of adventure and history. Gokulam and Chandamama played a big role as well. Tinkle was surprisingly something that did not captivate me much then. The few Indrajal comics that somehow I got and Target magazine were real fun as well. How many of you remember Gardhab Das the donkey-singer and Detective Tegrat?

Jaico abridged illustrated classics were safe and sound birthday gifts and I recollect receiving a few of them one year. By the time I was 12, I had moved to Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse and Shakespeare’s first full length play – ‘The Merchant of Venice’ part of Class Eight English lessons. At this juncture one has to mention ‘The Abridged Shakespeare Tales’ by Charles and Mary Lamb with some lovely line sketches that offered a clear insight into Shakespeare’s plays.

The first Sherlock Holmes story that I read was ‘The Red-Headed League’ a single tale hardbound cover in blue and a love for Sherlock Holmes and the science of detection commenced. One of my treasure possessions for a long time was a Jaico book – ‘The Hound of Baskervilles’. Years later I bought the ‘Complete Sherlock Holmes’ it was by a small-time Calcutta-based printing press and nothing fancy. But the book still remains safe and is very close to my heart. I think it was the first book that I bought on my own at a book fair in Chennai. The princely sum of Rs 200 after discount was paid for the book – 16 years ago.

Other authors whose books created an impact include:

  • Jules Verne – for two very treasured books – ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ and ‘The Journey to the Center of the Earth’.
  • Alexandre Dumas – ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ and ‘The Three Musketters’.
  • Anthony Hope – ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’
  • Satyajit Ray – ‘The Complete Feluda Stories’ – Penguin’s two volume set is again a special book!

But the one character who will always be special is —-???? – Guess???

It will always be Tintin 🙂

tintin

Herge and Tintin taught me a lot about the world, values, human nature and loyalty and friendship than all my teachers combined!

‘The Blue Lotus’ was the first Tintin book I got. My sister’s friend had the entire collection and thanks to her, every vacation I would go to her house and read the comics again and again. The greed of these publishers Methuen/Egmont has grown to unimaginable heights as they charge a premium price for these beautiful comics. Thanks to the internet old scanned copies are available and Tintin and Snowy will always remain close to my heart. I always hoped someday like Tintin, I would be a reporter, travel the world and have adventures. Instead, I have become a cross between the bungling Thompson twins, the forgetful Professor Calculus and the angry Captain Haddock. The closest that I had to Snowy was my dear Brownie, who now lives on a farm, I visit her once in a while.

The years have been gentle and kind at least in letting me buy and read books, I do not have too many vices, I splurge on books and movies, I am thankful for a job that lets me indulge in these two interests. Over the years novelists like Jo Nesbo, Ian Rankin, Stieg Larrsson, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, U.R. Ananthamurthy, and the translated works of Sivasankari, M.T. Vasudevan Nair, Jeyakanthan, O. Vijayan, Basheer have created a strange sense of longing in the heart.

Will there be someone with whom I can sit together and read a book, share a coffee and a hug and hold hands and listen to the birds chirp as the sun sets, letting the breeze kiss us gently as I slowly part the strands of her hair and smile. The sweetest love story that I have enjoyed is a 10-minute introduction of the beautiful movie ‘UP’. I hope I will find someone with whom I can share my books, my life, my movies, my music and my dreams!

Where art thou my Queen of Hearts? Where art thou???