The Value of Friendship

pexels-photo-298297

How do I define,
The bond that I share with you?
Admiration, friendship, a protective,
Shield that I use to shelter you?
When others mocked,
I stood for you.
In your darkest hours,
I was there for you.
Just as a passive listener,
Who would absorb all your insecurities,
And still hold your hands,
And wish you the best.

Would you know,
The number of times,
That I have prayed for you?
The candles that I lit for you,
The sacred offerings that I made for you,
Praying that the mental and physical demons,
That plagued you would go away.

You will never know,
All these things,
As new friends and BFFs, and besties,
And God knows what other term is being bandied,
Surround you with fake smiles and gifts,
And praise you to the sky, moon, and stars.
You will never know, what is it that runs in their minds.

You know – what hurts the most?
This blatant arrogance and veil,
That you choose to cover yourself,
In judging me to be a no-good loser,
Based on what someone told you,
The no-good parasites that just cause havoc,
The calculating, conniving, cunning, minds,
That wear a smile with ease,
And get their priorities sorted out,
And use you to their convenience.

You will learn in hindsight,
When they stab you,
And then you will realize,
What the value of friendship truly is?
If you are reading this,
And somewhere in your conscience,
If there’s a gentle prick,
Then fear not,
It is meant for you only.

I really hope,
Only good things,
Come your way.
May each successful peak,
That you surmount,
Be another gem in your crown.
So long and farewell,
The door remains open,
When self-realization happens,
You will be back.

 

Image Courtesy – Pexels

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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!

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…..

What Will Give You Happiness?

 

This question was posed by a friend to me a couple of days ago. Without batting an eyelid I said – “If Amma, gets seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, that will suffice.” He replied, – “But Mahesh, that is not in your hands right?”

I replied – “But that’s my biggest worry and concern at the moment.” He replied – “Mahesh, we are all in our wormhole of problems, wherein the health issues that our loved ones face impact our own focus. Even my Amma has a severe problem of the swelling of her feet and nerves, I can’t do anything about it other than advising her to follow the course of medicine prescribed by the doctor.”

His reply set me thinking, what would then really give me happiness:

1 – Getting the home loan paid in totality. (A long road ahead of about 14 years beckons)
2 – A song that amplifies my thoughts –

3 – One more: –

What will I be remembered for? What will you be remembered for? What is it that will give you happiness? How does the health of our loved ones impact our own choices and lives?

I type out this post as I see my mother lying with her eyes deeply shut trying to zone out the pain that afflicts her head and ears. We visited the ENT specialist, she says the eardrums have holes in both ears and there’s nothing more to be done. No moisture to go in, no cold to afflict and no buds. It’s been less than a fortnight at a new organization, but the patterns return, again an unplanned leave, again a vortex of hospitals, doctors, medicines and cutting a sorry-figure before those whom I report to – an endless stream of thoughts that boil down to the query – “What will give you happiness?”

I can at this point counter with a thought – Why is it important to derive happiness, why can’t just one remain – and why is sadness and pain such a big deterrent? Pain drives one in strange ways, it teaches you to believe that things can’t turn any bitter.

But it is this pain that when it afflicts a loved one that causes added misery. If only I could take all her pain and struggles and absorb them within my own realm. If only I could, if only….

I resign myself to the master: –

Mukti Bhavan – In Search of Salvation

Mukti Bhavan and Masaan – now make companion pieces of sorts – Varanasi and the River Ganga playing a major role in both movies.

Mukti Bhavan titled Hotel Salvation for international releases is a powerful, poignant and bitter-sweet tale of the patriarch of a middle-class family and his relationship with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in his quest for salvation.

In Varanasi/Benares/Kashi – remains a hotel called Mukti Bhavan where those who seek their final journey find an abode. Our lead character Daya played by Lalit Behl is a 77-year old man who has lived a life, well-spent, he sees a dream that foretells his death and he decides to leave for Varanasi to spend his last days. His son Rajiv played brilliantly by Adil Hussain seems to work in some kind of bank or investment firm and is seen chasing sales targets. Rajiv’s wife Lata played by Gitanjali Kulkarni and daughter Sunitha played by the elegant Palomi Ghosh also add to the perfect portrayal of the slightly upper middle-class family structure. They own a car as well as a Bajaj scooter.

Rajiv manages to secure a fortnight’s leave and accompanies Daya to Varanasi and they check-in to Mukti Bhavan. The caretaker Mishra ji is  played by Anil K. Rastogi who has some brilliant lines – “Death is a process.” “The souls here reside within the body. Once the body dies what purpose does the soul serve here.”

At one juncture, Daya falls sick and everyone feels he will die. An elderly lady at Mukti Bhavan played by Navinidra Behl adds grace and charm to the tale, she quips – ‘I have been waiting all my life here to die.” Daya apologises to his son for scuttling his son’s talents and dreams of being a poet. Some real good father-son scenes and I am sure a lot of us guys will relate to these scenes. Daya survives, Latha and Sunitha also make a surprise visit. The 15 day period comes to an end and the caretaker says – ‘Register in a new name and continue to wait for salvation.’

Daya finds a friend and companion in Vimala, then Vimala dies and Daya narrates a moving obituary that he has written for her. Daya advises Rajiv to return to his regular life.

Do watch this movie to figure out what happens to Daya.

At times, amidst all the drivel and leave your ‘mind at home’ cinema that all the woods bombard us with – small little gems like these arrive and make us fall in love with cinema and real characters. By the time the movie ended, I was quite emotional, been some time since I cried after watching a movie; Mukti Bhavan makes me think a lot. My obsession with death, salvation and redemption continue. There are no answers, neither are there any new questions. Celebrate death, embrace it, that which needs to happen will happen.

Full marks to director – Subhashish Bhutiani for an assured, confident and meaningful debut.

 

On Appa – On Failure and Ending this Charade

It will be Avani Avittam tomorrow. The usual ceremony with the associated prayers and rituals will be done. The holy three stranded thread the ‘yagnopavitham’ or ‘poonal’ will be dutifully changed. Like the past six or is it seven years now; no appa, no namaskarams, no separate vadhiyar. Like a lot of other tasks that a distraught son and a grieving and weak mother do; this too will be a task done to propitiate the various Gods that reside in some strange dimension!

I have lost count of the number of times relatives have passed sly comments at our predicament. I have lost count of the number of marriage proposals/alliances that have been shot down because in the eyes of prospective in-laws; a drunkard, irresponsible, chronic liar’s progeny can be no different and will only bring doom and despair.

At 36, I have lived long enough to see how the dynamics of social interaction in reality and social networks work. I have seen love stories turn in to tragedies, arranged marriages turning into success stories, love marriages turning into bitter divorces and variations and combinations of all possible results. This is not wallowing in self-pity, this is the realization that people treat you for granted, call you names behind your back, mock you, spread rumours, create fights, all to satiate their own egos.

I have always believed in counting one’s blessings and looking at the brighter side of life. But the way life seems to stretch forward and the relentless pressure to wear a mask, stay happy, put fun-filled and positive quotes on social networks, find purpose in life, work toward it; everything seems to be one massive lie and serves no definite purpose. My inability to find my purpose in life continues to daunt me. What purpose do adherence to scriptures and rituals serve? Like one automated robot this charade continues.

I have thought a fair deal about this before penning this down. Someone I knew personally, young, vivacious and vibrant; a social butterfly of sorts; died. She boasted over 7000 friends on Facebook over 2000 followers on Instagram and led the so-called charmed life. She died of a drug-overdose and at her funeral ceremony, only a total of seven people other than her grieving parents appeared. This came as a rude shock to me. Where did all those friends – real and social go? Why do we do, what we do? My day-job requires me to handle multiple corporate social media accounts and I can’t run away from there. But I do have a choice, all the random drivel posted here and on my personal accounts, I can control that for sure! I can stop pretending to be the intellectual literary snob, the cineaste, the music enthusiast, shutterbug and all the other carefully chosen adjectives used to describe my foolish self!

This ends here – now! I need to get a life – a real life. Hope to meet you in the real world and exchange thoughts.

This post will remain here as a testimony to all the foolish words written here till date.

Let there be light!