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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Scream & Silence

Last year I went to Spain and had the good fortune of seeing the painting of Munch titled Scream. A pretty famous painting with a figure in black with his mouth wide open as if it is screaming its lungs out and the vibrations are felt across the world. At that time, the picture merely amused me. Today, in a sort of an epiphany, the painting makes a lot more sense than it did earlier.

All of us, and I am taking the liberty of generalisation here, have many things which we wish to say out loud. Our regrets, our anger, our sorrows, our happiness etc. But rarely do we get the audience or the time for the full disclosure of it all. And so it happens, that all of us have so much to say kept within us, just beneath the surface, bursting to come out. And when the time comes, it does.

A scream, in each of its decibel, carries a different story, a new story to tell. Every pitch increase pulls out a new sorrow, a new anger, a new happiness from the hidden depths of our being and throws it out into the world to any and all to hear. Like a pressured machine having its steam vent open, full throttle, all at once.

A keen listener can make out the different stories in the scream. But what he dreads the most is the silence after the scream. The poignant, unending silence which in itself has the sharp bitterness of submission and defeat. In contrast with the loud audible screams, the silence, by its conspicuous absence, is more unnerving than ever.

Beware a man who has just let loose a scream, for now he has nothing in him to suppress, nothing in him to hide, nothing in him to restrain him. He has become free from all his inhibitions and ready for new battles with a clean slate and mind. Like a sort of cleansing ritual for the mind and the soul.

But the worst kind of scream are the silent ones. Where your stories and sufferings are so strong even Voice cannot explain them to the world. Decibels are meaningless and audience irrelevant. Those are the screams, most private and personal, reserved only for ourselves in our most vulnerable state of being,

You shed them like a snake shedding a skin and you feel anew, having been tempered in the fires of life, sharpened by the rocks of experiences and doused in the waters of misery. A rebirth of the Phoenix.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Anchored at High Seas

Alex was sitting on the docks, at the very edge of the pier, legs dangling over open water. The wind blew the tides towards the pier and they crashed with the poles, splashing Alex’s feet with cool seawater. Alex, his hair billowing in the wind, seemed to be lost in thought, mindlessly throwing pebbles into the water creating ripples. He looked distressed, discouraged and depressed.

He was woken from his reverie by a voice right above his head “Hey there. Are you lost, little one?”
Alex lifted his head to see the inverted face of an old man, with a weather-beaten look and the drawl of a sailor. He replied “In a way, I am, Mate”

The sailor sat down next to him and said “A penny for your thoughts, young hand? What seems to be the trouble?”

Alex smiled ruefully and said “My family doesn’t like me. They sent me to this stupid school far away from them. I hate everything about this place. I want to go back home.”

This time, the sailor smiled knowingly. “Eh, that’s a problem alright.” And the sailor became silent.

The sun was past its high point and soon it would be dusk. It was that time of the day when it’s still light, but the sun was not visible and a good breeze blows. Against this idyllic backdrop, one could find these 2 figures sitting along the pier, silent and serene.

The sailor broke the silence and asked “You want to hear a story mate? It seems we both have time to kill.” Alex simply nodded, but seemed to cheer up with the prospect of one of those famed stories of the old sailors.

The sailor looked towards the horizon and began: There was once a young kid named Nat, who used to live around here. He used to caper around and cause trouble to the sailors, upsetting their routine or hiding their tools. Yet, he was good and innocent at heart. He didn’t wish to cause real harm to anyone. He loved his life and the place, as it was always bustling with activity and new sailors to trouble. He was content.

One day, his father, who was a second mate on one of the ships, came home. He was a big, burly, gruff man, kind but strict. He greeted everyone enthusiastically since he had been away for a long time. After the cheerful welcome, the family sat down for dinner.

Towards the end of dinner, the father stood up. Everyone’s eyes were now fixed on him, full of expectation, questions and nervous excitement. The father cleared his throat, said warm words for the welcome he had received and expressed his happiness at being back. Then after clearing his throat, he said “I have decided that Nat is now old enough to work on a ship. I have already talked to the captain of one of the ships leaving day after tomorrow and he has agreed to take him on as a helping hand. The ship will be at sea for almost 5 months before reaching its destination. Another 5 months to come back. Therefore, we will not be seeing Nat for the next 1 year. I wish Nat fares well, and may there always be wind in his sail.” With that he sat down.

All eyes were now on Nat. Nat looked spellbound and utterly at a loss of words. “” were a few things going on within his mind. He did not know how to react. Slowly, the panic set it, the fear of leaving home, away from his cherished world, his world turning topsy-turvy in a short span of 1 min.

It was then that everyone started talking at the same time. His mother came up to him with tears in her eyes and hugged him hard, all the while crying and patting his back. All she said was “I will help you pack.”
It had been 3 weeks since Nat left his family at the pier. He still missed them but he hardly had the time to think about them. The life of a helping hand on the ship was a demanding one. It was rigorous backbreaking work as well. He had been physically sore for the first 2 weeks on the ship but now the daily routine had set in and the pain was not so much.

Nat had met every sailor, 50 in all, present on the ship and was intrigued by the myriad backgrounds they came from. There were sailors from all parts of the world, from places he had not even heard of. He was determined to find out all he could about the places. Slowly, Nat forgot his initial apprehension about leaving home and began enjoying the new experiences which came his way. From being stuck in the doldrums for days together, to seasickness, to the various languages spoken aboard, to the stories narrated by the sailors of their homeland.

Nat realized that there was so much more to see, hear, learn and experience, that he started to realise how foolish he was to have wanted to stay back home. He learnt the meaning of life and living as well as knowledge on that ship. Each journey he made, taught him more about life, enhanced his knowledge and his desire to explore more, live more.

Every time he came home, it was a joyous occasion. But Nat would always be looking ahead to the next great adventure on the high seas. After many years of sailing around when he finally came back home for good, he decided to write his.  He called his memoirs “Anchored on High Seas”.

With this, the sailor pulled out a small book from his pocket and handed it over to Alex. It was dog-eared and smudged with various stains but still in good condition and all the pages were present. The sailor said, “Nat was a friend of mine. He gave me this book before he left for his final voyage. This book has given me a lot of insight into my own life. I hope it helps you the same way as it helped me.”

Saying this, the sailor got up, ruffled the hair of Alex in a friendly manner and left. Alex was still in the world of Nat, on a ship exploring new lands.
Alex was back in his room, still lost in thoughts about the life of a sailor and the varied adventures they have. He still held the book in his hand and opened it to some random page. He began reading it and found a lot of florid, vivid descriptions of lands Nat had visited. Along with that, there was also a section on what Nat learnt about life by being a sailor. Below are a few chosen extracts Alex found relevant to himself.

Day 105: Today is the 3rd day since we have been stuck due to no winds. All day long, the crew sits on the deck, staring at the sails, in hopes that it would fill up with wind again and they can proceed.  We are literally “Anchored at High Seas”. It has been a good time to talk to the sailors who are otherwise busy. One thing I could figure out from them was that they had utmost belief in their destiny. They truly believed that they were present right here, on the seas, stuck with no winds for a purpose. Their belief was their Anchor- the Anchor of Life. It was this anchor that kept them sane and provided them solace in times of need and also in times of joy. Hard times only helped to harden their resolve and good times made them believe they were on the right track to their destiny. When asked why they are so devout, they said “If I don’t have this belief, I am lost. I couldn’t wake up in the morning. I couldn’t go through the day. I would have an existential crisis”. Their belief system is the very core of their life, their Anchor which connects the free spirit within them to the materialistic nature of this world. If they do not believe in themselves and their goals, they do not exist. One belief defines them. I learnt from them that man is as man believes. His belief system in something is what drives him forward. It’s the force that continuously pushes him ahead towards his destiny. One sentence from a mariner summed it all up for me. “Look closely at what you believe. Because it encompasses how you live.

Day 710: You do not meet such erudite people often; people of such faith and humility, yet with the wisdom of the world in their eyes, and maturity of the ages in their thinking. It was happenstance that I came in contact with such a person exactly at the time when I was pondering over the questions- “I have seen the world. What should I do now?” It seemed quite useless to keep going places without going anywhere. Yes, I have been to several parts of the world, seen various cultures, but what now? It was at this junction that Mr. Yusuf Ali came in contact with me. He lay down on his divan, with strong Turkish tea to sustain himself while I sat opposite him on a straight backed chair, feeling uncomfortable. I had recently brought back an assignment of precious cargo for this gentleman, and he, taking a liking for me, had requested a quiet chat before I departed.

He looked at me for some time with a penetrating glance, as if searching my soul, and then seemed to have been content with what he found. He let the silence between the 2 of us build. At last, being fed up with this game, I asked “What do you want?” to which he replied “The truth”. It confused me further “Truth, about what?” He replied – “Truth about what you seek”. I blurted out “I seek the truth about Knowledge. What should I use it for?”

Yusuf smiled and nodded. “The fact that you have asked this question shows that you have matured. Like wine stored in a barrel, like a well simmered Iraqi tea. What you seek is not knowledge, but where to apply it. You seem to be frustrated with this mere gathering of information with no viable use of it. Knowledge is secondary. Your intent is primary. A person, unless he gathers information for a specific use, is not said to be knowledgeable about the use. Without intent of a specific use, knowledge is just information. You are a sailor, you must know about the direction of the winds. That is information. When you know how to change the sails to get the best draft- that is called knowledge.

No one in this world can be knowledgeable about everything. But we can all attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible. The more knowledgeable we are, the more situations in life we can tackle. The more situations we can tackle, the more experienced and successful we are. Knowledge is all about storing the tools of learning in the attic of mind, to be retrieved whenever there is a need for such tools to repair, destroy or build something in this world. Knowledge is your ultimate arsenal. It is the weapon which no one can take away from you, and which you alone know how to control. It can be constructive or destructive depending upon the way you use it.

This encounter changed my perspective on how I viewed knowledge. It was then, that I realised, what I had thought of as knowledge was nothing but information. From today on, I shall seek to be more knowledgeable rather than being informed.

Day 1879: This is one of my last pieces of writing. I have run out of things to write about. Most people ask me “how has your life been?”. All I have to say to them is “It has been OK. Nothing to complain about. Could have been worse.” But I have been pondering over this answer I have been thinking and have come to some realizations. Life is not what you make out of it, it’s how you take it. Life is not a journey to seek a goal. It is simply a journey. The goals keep changing with the passage of time. The Anchor of Belief and the Thirst for Knowledge are the 2 key factors that propel us forwards to seek newer heights. And thus, life has a very simple definition.

LIFE – Look Inside For Everything

With the right belief and knowledge, life is a great journey.

Alex didn’t realise when the sun went down or came up. He had been so engrossed in the memoirs that he had read it through the night. He now realised, how wrong he had been in being distressed, depressed and discouraged. His life was at a point of change. He was free to pursue his own dreams, gain new experiences and stand on his own two legs and face the world.
And face it he would. With his belief intact and the expanding horizons of Knowledge, he had his Anchor and the wind in his sails to propel him into an exciting journey called – Life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It Passed Me By

when i was a kid, i used to think
How cool it would be to grow up
To become an adult in a blink

Now that I am adult i always think
How cool it would be retire
To to laze, read, sip and drink

And while I stood thinking,
Life.... it passed me by.

Through tough times and through even more
I used to think, "It shall pass in a wink,
And then the sun shall shine again.
And I shall finally catch a few winks."

While waiting for the sun to shine,
Life... it passed me by.

I fell in love and fell out again
Repeat this story over again
I used to think "I shall wait it out.
The right one shall soon come about."

While waiting for a sign of her,
Life.... it passed me by.

The more I travel, the more I think,
"There is time enough for one more trip.
Before Nature takes her dues,
Mortality claims her ashes too."

While waiting for that last one trip,
Life.... it passed me by.

We search for meaning in and out,
seeking help, wandering about,
to answer the one question we all seek,
"Why do we live, why do we die"

While I stood thinking about it all,
Life.... it passed me by.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Kiss Me Once

"Kiss me once,
Just for luck.
I'm going on a journey
of a lifetime."

My bag is packed,
my work on hold
the heart is filled
with stories untold

"Kiss me once,
Just for luck.
I'm going on a journey
of a lifetime."

the sun is up
the storm receding
the wind is calm
the spring is breeding

"Kiss me once,
Just for luck.
I'm going on a journey
of a lifetime."

Looking for love
and life's meaning
in the morning dew
and the dusky hues

"Kiss me once,
Just for luck.
I'm going on a journey
of a lifetime."

I wander alone
and wonder more
is it a solitary life
or peaceful solitude

"Kiss me once,
Just for luck.
I'm going on a journey
of a lifetime."

I met few souls
and some stayed back
some I miss much
Joy and sorrow such

"Kiss me once,
Just for luck.
I'm going on a journey
of a lifetime."

In this sojourn of life
and its meandering ways
you meet grief and joy
bite a lemon, enjoy

"Kiss me once,
Just for luck.
I'm going on a journey
of a lifetime."

Friday, April 15, 2016

When Time Stood Still

Sleepy eyed, I looked at the clock
Almost ready to jolt up in shock
Only to find it, poignantly still
I could sleep today to my fill.

Yet deep within the poet spoke
A question within me it awoke
If one moment was all you get
To remember, relive, frame and set

Which one would it be
you always want to see

Would it be the second
you tore out the mail
to find you were in
Harvard, Duke or Yale

Would it be the moment
you looked in her eye
Where time stood still
While the sky passed by

Would it be the time
You woke up sick
to the caress of your mother
with soup, hot and thick

Or the time you ticked a box
scratching away, striking off
The last wish on
your bucket list

Life awaits for us does not
to capture moments in camera shots
Only in our mind we save

Moments in our lives we crave

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Story

Ask me not my story
but see it in my eyes
where courage and sadness intermingle
sparking up the brilliant twinkle

Ask me not my story
but feel it in my skin
ensconced in the worn leathery crinkles
smile and tear caught in the wrinkles

Ask me not my story
but gauge it in my gait
the defeated, hunched shoulders
the happy-go-lucky weight

Ask me not my story
but hear it in my voice
the lurking cry in a smile
my story in a solitary sigh.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Missed Words

In life I‘ve said many things
Roaring loud or softly ping
Some words hurting more than others
Burning bridges, tearing asunder
If I could change one word
Changing maybe what I heard

Times when things were tough
Sometimes words were not enough
The heart filled smile that that lifted you
Deserved a quite, gracious “Thank You”

Times when things just fell apart
Trying hard to make a fresh start
The helping hand that guided you
Deserved a heart-felt “Bless You”

When your heart was broke
And your shattered soul
Clung to her memories
Like its last hope
The strong shoulders you rested upon
Deserved a comforting “I love you all”

When things went bad
And thoughts clashed on
Every step a marathon
The person that made you cry
Needed to hear “Good Bye”

What is once said cannot be forgotten,
Pleasing, harsh, uplifting or rotten
Well-intended or misunderstood
Communicate more than you should
You never know which words are your last
Who knows… your one more word
Meant to another… a world.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Your Creation

Though your feet are sore
Due to the long walk
It brings to the fore
Heart's core talk
You walk through red earth
To reach the shore
To quench your eternal thirst
Asking life ' More....'
You sail the faithless seas
To see a sight of it
You battle monstrous beasts
Hoping, to touch it a bit
That ephemeral peak in the clouds
Seen with feet firmly on the ground
A final lofty culmination
Of your idea, obeisance and admiration
At last
Your own creation.

Monday, January 4, 2016


It was a clear, windy day,
Clouds floated by
The summer was well on its way
Autumn still a bit shy

The park was full of color
Of flowers, paint and clothes
A child in red and blue attire
Frolicking in the balmy day

He saw a flower big and brighter
Swaying in the golden light
And with his mother in his mind
He plucked it out, and jumped in joy

He ran towards her
Sitting in the shade
Seeing him, she spread her wings
A harbinger for the warmest things

Before he reached her, he fell,
Stopped, not by stones, but bullets, fell.
The satanic sounds of guns roaring
The pleading sounds of men soaring
The utter hell of a mother holding close,

Her child, with a blood red rose.