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: –

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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!

Hospital Memories

It may seem strange, but I do recollect the hospital where I was born after a marathon struggle that my mother and the operating doctors underwent – Portland Hospital. It is said that I was still-born and there was no response and the doctor as a last try whacked me gently on my butt and I broke into a wail, announcing my presence!

My next memory is that of my maternal uncle returning one evening from work, perspiring abnormally and clutching his chest. We proceeded to admit him to a hospital where he was treated for a massive cardiac arrest.

The next memory of a hospital is a pleasant one of seeing my aunt’s son being born!

This is followed by my nephew being born in a nursing home and my sister all smiles but tired.

After this, every single memory of a hospital has been nerve-wracking and physically and emotionally full of turmoil. From losing friends, from seeing friends having a close shave with death, of having multiple close shaves with death myself and somehow escaping the Grim Reaper; these all remain as distinct memories. The devil within the brain, does not let me forget the smallest of details, each memory is full of pain.

The past few years have seen me rushing to the hospital with unfailing regularity with my mother seeking deliverance from a variety of illnesses. From fluctuating sugar-levels, cardiac issues, a broken arm, the list never seems to end. Last year was fluid build-up in the chest and lungs and almost a cardiac arrest-type of situation

This past fortnight was terrifying as we could not pinpoint what the core issue was and the reports from the labs found nothing significantly out-of-the-ordinary. Whatever she ate, she would vomit; she would not be able to stand and fall back onto the bed and complain of extreme dizziness.

Finally with some assistance from the cab-driver, managed to put Amma into the cab and proceeded to Sundaram Medical Foundation. En-route in the cab she vomited, then in the hospital’s emergency ward, she was put on nutrients, tests were run, some food advised to be given, which she again duly vomited after one bite. Tests were run and as is the usual protocol, the nurse would come out and call ‘Sharada Attender’ – A list would be given or a bill for a test and I would keep making the payments at the relevant counters. Finally, an ENT said it is the ears that have been severely infected and there is a pressure imbalance leading to the dizziness. Slippery sensation in the feet, linked to Diabetes and would need due course of correction later. Ears cleaned, medicines given and finally dinner she ate without vomiting and said food is bland! I was here thanking God that something went in to her stomach and she says – ‘Uppu illai’ /’No salt’!!!

Then doctor said let us do a CT-Scan and cross check if there’s any other issue in the ears or the head that may be affecting her and causing dizziness. Finally at around 12:30 AM the cleaning staff cleaned the floors of the sitting area outside the ECU Ward. People began to spread sheets and lay down, I managed to lie down on the steel-chairs and found a place under a fan and went into a disturbed sleep and nightmares that keep haunting me every night; of the inevitable, painful truth!

Nurse came in by 4:30 AM, some more tests and some medicines to be bought! As dawn broke, like a gigantic robot, the hospital began buzzing with life, even as in various parts of the hospitals, life was being created, in some corner life snuffing out after a battle; the hospital awoke!

After a lot of discussion between the main doctor, a lady who was about 50 years old and who for some strange reason reminded me of Indira Gandhi and the ENT specialist, I was informed that we can leave for now and return on Tuesday for OP-review. Vertigo the reason for these problems!

We returned home and after a simple lunch and some rest, she vomited again and my helplessness continued. Medicines given, dinner given, fitful sleep, the next day dawns and vomiting again! The Gods are propitiated, rituals conducted with rice and requests to spirits of the ancients to safeguard us. In the interim, Amma’s friends from the nearby temple who are equally old and tired, call upon her and add to the moodiness and gloom and leave.

So far the lunch of samba ravai kanji has been consumed in portions.., don’t know what the evening and night holds in its wake; keep my mum in your prayers.

Till we meet again…

A Sense of an Ending – Life-Lessons in Free Verse

This trend to follow fads,
To add prefixes before names,
To crave for attention,
To pretend to be busy,
To choose to ignore,
The ones who care for you.
With practised ease,
Charm your way,
With white-lies and gossip,
How easy is this life?
Where is the value,
Of friendship in these troubled times?

I thought I knew you,
I now know,
That I hardly know myself.
Of groups and groups within groups,
Of name-calling.

The morbid need
To vilify others,
To mock others with rabid writing,
And lamest of lame jokes.
This is not what friendship is about!

As people find comfort,
In the company of like-minded geniuses,
I look at some pictures.

Some pictures that Facebook’s algorithm,
Chooses to pop-up on the screen,
Where are these people?
Where are these friends?
What changed in them?
What changed in me?
Where did I lose my identity?
Why did I surrender to self-pity?
Eventually, they all go away,
Best friends to good friends,

Acquaintances to strangers.
The transformation is complete.

No bitterness, no anger,
A sense of calm,
A sense of truth,
A sense of an ending,
That true friendships,
Can never exist,
Someone or something,
Will always come in between,
And when hubris grows,
It is pure self-destruction.
May God grant you light!
And please choose to do,
What you deem right;
I no longer have the strength to fight,
For you, for others, for myself!
I no longer care!
This had to get out of the brain,
Or I would never be able to set the demons free!

Soar high, make your dreams come true.
Good luck as always!

Trapped

I walked down,
The narrow streets,
Of the Evening Bazaar.
A shop caught my eyes.
In a 5 by 5 enclosure,
An enterprising young man,
Had set up a shop,
With cages all around,
There were birds,
With feathers of varying hues.
Blue, Green, Yellow,
The plumage was a feast for the eyes!

But were the birds happy?
They were scared!
Tired, hungry and angry,
Looking for someone,
To buy them and set them free,
Or probably offer grain and water,
With love, care and affection.
They conversed in low chirps.

As I stood for a while and pondered,
I wondered, am I any different?
Trapped in doing something,
For a living – without a big choice!
The SMS alert from the bank,
Every month reminding me of the EMIs,
The happiness of the salary-credit,
Being overlapped by the splitting,
Of expenses all around!

The rising medical bills,
The growing costs of grocery,
Lesser and lesser interaction,
With friends in the real world,
Being replaced by bonhomie,
On Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
I wonder!! How elegantly I am trapped!!!

A vicious cycle is this –
That has no signs of redemption.
When was the last time,
I smiled honestly, without fear or pain?
When was the last time,
I attended a social event,
Without worrying about the ticking clock,
And the long commute home??
When was the last time,
I stopped worrying about an aged parent?

The mountain of worries and fears,
Piles one upon the other.
Neither is there peace within,
Nor confidence outside!
Like a wolf caught in the glare,
Of powerful headlights from an SUV,
I stand dazed on an icy path,
In the treacherous forest path!

As the clock keeps ticking,
I continue to question my choices,
Of having let go of opportunities,
Of having accepted challenges,
Of realizing that nothing,
Nothing at all matters,
And one is only as good,
As the last published post!

This urge to break free,
To bid goodbye,
To this false sense of security,
Is rising, the head throbs,
There is this intense frustration,
That builds into a castrated rage,
That seeks an outlet of release!

I am trapped, well and truly trapped!
And that’s the only truth!!
That’s the only truth!!
Perhaps, tomorrow, may offer hope!
Hope is the only emotion,
That offers comfort of any sort!
Hope is a good thing,
Despite being brutally trapped,
Hope is a good thing!

Everyone Leaves

Eventually, we bid goodbye,

To friends, family, loved ones,

Treasured possessions, jobs, colleagues,

Books, pets, memories,

We bid goodbye!

The parting at times, is pleasant!

Most often it is extremely bitter!

Eventually it all boils down,

To one pertinent question.

Did you make a positive difference,

In anybody’s life, with your words and deeds?

Did you just take,

Without sharing and giving?

Everyone leaves,

One day or the other,

Everyone leaves us!

Someday we will also leave,

Everyone else, leaving memories,

Of times well-spent and of angry spats.

Eventually we all bid goodbye to each other!

 

An Ode to a Brother

What do I term this bond?
I have known you for how long?
Four or perhaps five years.
How these years have flown,
The highs the lows,
The dreams the visions,
The books read, movies seen,
Emotional outbursts,
The ever-changing equations,

The pain of seeing,
Those who meant everything,
Turning us into idiots,
Of the highest order,
As everyone found a way,
To go away,
But still we chose to stay,
With that calm and stoic smile.
Of business-ventures,
Of publishing dreams,
Of short-movies and scripts,
Of walks on the beach,
Of photography trips,

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Boarding the crowded bus to CMBT,
That strange pilgrimage of sorts,
That we undertook in Tiruvanamalai,
The ramifications of all that ensued,
Of everything turning topsy-turvy,
Of hope, of faith, of self-confidence,
Of braving floods, storms and winds,
Of short stories that get better and better,
Of a novel, a sublime work of art,
That I think you will never release.

But I really hope,
You would publish it,
Because it is a special book,
I know how much it meant to you,
Of what you wanted to salvage,
Of how much hurt remains,
But still you let go,
Without a complaint,
Without bitterness – a trait,
That I hope someday I will imbibe.

Of the trip to Thirukadaiyyur,
A chance that you gave me,
For I will never,
Ever get that chance,
In my lost paternity,
Of the fantastic rava laaddu,
Of the tender coconut we sipped,
Of the pain that remains in your eyes,
For whatever you say, whatever you do,
I can still see through the eyes!

That evening when I rushed,
To see you all bloody and injured,
Thanking the Good Samaritan,
Whose prompt action saved you,
Of posing for a selfie,
All bloodied an plastered,
In the Government Hospital,
Memories of joy in pain,
Of the relief of seeing you fine.
Of understanding the gaps,
In your confused memory,

Of sharing pictures,
To fill those gaps,
Of music, cinema,
Good food and Jo Nesbo,
Of waiting for that notification,
To read your latest post.
There’s a lot that remains,
I really hope,
This year turns special,
As you fight your own battles,
Just remember, I am just a message away!

I really hope,
Your next novel,
Releases soon,
Is a blockbuster,
That shuts all those wagging tongues,
That mocked you,
With such hatred and ease.
And that short film that forever is in our minds,
Let us shoot that too!

Here’s to many more years, of brotherhood, good health and joy!3756d-100_1393

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BP – An Ode to a Brother!

Silhouette Photo Courtesy – Vinod Velayudhan