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: –

Advertisements

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!

Till we meet again – Cheers!

It is 7:30 PM on this Monday evening as I type this out. Last Monday, same time, the winds were howling, rain pouring in torrents, there was no power supply and we were managing with a single light running on the inverter. It has taken a full week for things to return to some semblance of normalcy. Power came back late on Wednesday. Took a day for regularisation. Many pockets of the city and the suburbs are still without power and it is a scary proposition. How powerless we are in front of the elements??

On top of all the chaos unleashed by Mother Nature and the resulting catastrophe in terms of power failure, the great demonetization joke is truly taking a toll. I see construction work that has stopped, small workshops and factories shut down. The markets are no longer full of hawkers with their produce. I have to look for a shop that accepts card or Paytm for digital payments. This in turn is being used to advantage by these supermarket chains, which have cleverly hiked prices of fresh vegetables. Every single ten and twenty rupees note is quite precious and the 50 and the 100-rupees note, well they are like diamonds now!

The purpose of this post, as usual, I don’t know, 2016 is coming to an end. My mother gave me a scare of epic proportions as she had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment and the recuperation is taking its own sweet time. 2016 has been an eye-opener, I finally found out that I am a joke to a lot of people. People who smile, laugh and joke with me in my presence, mock, tease and call me names in private and spread rumours. Well to each his/her own. Life goes on!

I learnt a key lesson, trust your gut instinct, everyone will offer a 1000 opinions and nuggets of wisdom, but it is the gut instinct that will always prove true. I have seen friends blossom into successful novelists, photographers, singers and accomplished artists and I am happy for all of them!

Being betrayed by people whom I trusted with all my heart has once again proved the gospel truth — “Be your own friend!” As the clock ticks, every passing minute, I can’t help but rue the lost opportunities. If I had been selfish enough and honest enough to pursue my own dreams, life would have been different. Despite letting go, the past returns to haunt me. I have run far away from the past, trying to create a new life for myself, but karma catches up in weird ways!

At 34, I am not even a shadow of what I was. The hands tremble, the battle to sleep without nightmares is a trying task. This year again, I bid goodbye to some people. In front of my eyes, I see my mother disintegrate physically and mentally and I can’t do anything about it. I am resigned to fate, trusting that the medicines will offer relief. The intense fear that she will leave me when I am away, scares me to no end. But then that’s life isn’t it – always be ready for the unpredictable to hit you bang on the head!!

The cherished desire to complete the Girivalam at Thiruvanamalai was accomplished in the middle of 2016. On the first day of the new year, I embark on a pilgrimage to Sabarimalai, my first visit to the holy hill. I will be away, aiming to find answers, seeking to find pardon for actions that cannot be corrected. I seem to sink deeper and deeper into a whirlpool of thoughts that plague me. The sense of abject failure and dejection never seems to leave me. Despite having supervised a fair number of creative writing projects, when I seek to write my own story – I am a big zero.

I am supposed to work on a 500-words essay on the modern classroom – but try as much as I can – the words are not satisfactory enough and I have deleted two pieces of writing. It has reached a stage where even the one skill that I trusted would not leave me is slowly disappearing – the ability to string words together at will! My mind fails me, I forget things with unfailing regularity. I get these blank and blind spells, everything turns hazy for a while and I have to stand or sit silent for some time till normalcy returns. All the bashes and blows to the head from another lifetime, keep haunting me in these quirky little ways.

This will perhaps be the last post for a long time to come. I need to look inwards and find purpose and meaning in my life. I can’t continue to fool myself and others with this mask that has now turned into my identity. Till we meet again, if it is destined; we shall meet again here!

May 2017 offer all that you aspire for and bless you with joy and good health!

Cheers!

M

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!

A Prayer

Every time I slip up,
I have been given,
A life-line,
Praise be to the Lord,
And my superiors.

Please my Lord,
Please let me,
Be true to the people,
Who have placed,
Their trust in me.

I have been given,
Yet another lease,
A chance to start afresh,
This is the final chance,
Lord, please don’t let me fail!

Run Fat Boy Run

There was a time when I used to box, train and run, nothing phenomenal, running was something that never fascinated me. But being an avid footballer and cricketer meant somehow or the other I ended up running a fair distance quite regularly.

Over the years as other incidents and accidents happened and priorities changed; the sole purpose of life has changed. The everyday rush to reach college followed by office on time meant that physical exercise took a back-seat, especially after life in the corporate zone happened.

My exercise is cycling roughly 3 kms a day (to and fro/total) from home to railway station and back and walking for about 1.5 kilometres (to and fro) another station in the city to office and back.

At time like these when I look at various news-items on sports events, I wonder what would have happened if some things had not happened in a very, very bitter past. I could have been an accomplished boxer or excelled at least one sport and represented my state if not the district. Some memories just do not fade away. The adrenaline rush when you pad up to face the 6.5 feet pace bowler from the other college team. The joy of a header that tricks the goal-keeper and fetches celebratory back-thumps and hugs from team-members. The sheer training that one imposed on one-self to become a powerful boxer. The endless time spent shadow-boxing and perfecting the one-inch punch.

I look back at myself and wonder, if I could create a wormhole/black-hole/flux some fancy term to go back in time!!!

OK what prompted this post???

Well our attendance register closes sharp at 9:55 AM at the reception counter. So today I ran and walked fast, ran and walked fast, akin to an old double-decker bus navigating through narrow by-lanes – to cover about a kilometre in around 8 or 9 mins, wading through the mush and slush of the overnight rains.

The joy of beating the clock brought back a whole bunch of memories.

As I sit back, relaxing for a while, wondering how life has brought me here, I can only be grateful for the small acts of mercy and kindness that the Lord has showered on me.

So back to work 🙂 time for the fat boy to run, run to catch the train back home 🙂

The Show Must Go On

It is around 6 PM.
All the punctual staff,
Who enter on time,
Are ready to leave,
Their day has come,
To a wonderful end.
Having read and replied,
To a multitude of emails.

Others have processed,
A number of files,
Which have been sent,
To people around the world,
For translation into various languages.
Some people have focused,
All their energies,
Looking at statistics,
To determine advertising performance,
Others focus on digital advertising,
That has to be published.

Newsletters that need to be built,
Test to be sent to groups,
Before the final dispatch,
To the client mailing list.
Amidst all this; meetings,
Seem to be taking place,
With unfailing regularity.
A conference room with glass walls,
Distracts my attention and colleagues,
Seem to walk in and walk out!

I came in late today,
Thanks to a massive fault,
On the suburban train system,
Signal failure and track disruption.
My life has become a strange ritual,
Of rushing to catch trains.
Hoping they are running on time.
Sending an SMS to my superiors,
Begging for permission,
To reach a bit late.

Amidst all this hurry and worry,
A rodent has chosen to die,
It is caught in some AC duct,
That is hidden by the false ceiling,
We are being visited,
By technicians and exterminators,
The rodent is truly a devil,
Escaping all the probes and searches.
The stench of the rotting carcass,
Is sending my olfactory bulb,
Into a crazy tizzy.

The AC has been switched off,
The windows opened,
The pedestal fan swings,
From left to right,
And then right to left,
And I wonder with,
A sardonic smile,
Like the fan, I too am lost,
Without any fulcrum or purpose,
From second to second,
And day to day.

In some strange pursuit,
From one end of the metropolis,
To the other, from home to office,
And yet again from office to home,
Repeating the cycle,
All over again!
In pursuit of what?
Love, Money, Respect?
I do not know at all!
Like a robot, pre-programmed,
I am one more human,
Who sold his soul.

I sold my soul,
To adhere to the norms,
Of what this society,
Expected of me,
What my family wanted of me.
I no longer dream for myself,
Except for some visions of Mother Mary,
All that I get are nightmares!
Which have me waking up,
In a cold sweat, in spite of the AC.

This should have been a simple poem,
At the most 20 lines,
But this is the problem that plagues me.
No focus, no purpose, no pattern,
Or design – even in what I write.
A day at the office,
As usual as always,
Perhaps this is the only,
Short span, when I can keep,
My crazy mind free of worries.
For the work and tasks,
Assigned to me,
Will keep me occupied!

It is 6:15 PM now,
I started writing this poem,
At just about 6 PM.
In 15 minutes,
I have tried to cover,
The anguish that many of us-
Lost souls or souls who have sold,
Their souls in the pursuit of excellence.
What is it that lies ahead?
Where does this path take me?

At the end,
There is just one line,
There have been many,
Many such souls before me,
And there will be yet,
Many more souls hereafter.

84fd2-taxidriver

Like Travis Bickle,
I look at the crowded streets,
The empty souls,
Disguised with mirth.
All fighting their,
Very own battles.

This too is a phase,
Wherever I go,
This phase shall rear up its head.
This is the Game of Life,
We are all players,
The show has to go on!