I am a Success

This note was written by my grandfather for his daughter.

Three generations later, the paper is brittle, the ink is faded, but the message is just as strong.

parchment

Transcribing Memory

Tough Questions

Why can’t I say Fuck?” my 9 year old son protests.

Tough Questions!

A panoply of emotions race through me, chief amongst them being horrifying embarrassment, an ‘O earth open up and swallow me’ embarrassment. Where do father’s vanish when you need them?

It all started a week back when I saw at least a dozen ‘fucks’ scribbled all over his note book. No. Cant be. Not my baby boy. It took me an entire day to accept that this was my son’s handwriting. I would have sent it for forensic analysis had I not been too mortified to show it to another. Shouldn’t he hit his teens before dropping me down this rabbit hole? The next two days were spent wringing my hands and deciding the appropriate course of action – ignore or confront. Ignore, said the girl whose own mother had determined the night before her nuptials to be the suitable time to explain about the ‘birds and the bees’. Even that conversation went – I suppose your married friends told you that somethings are going to happen. Enlightening! Talk about it, said the more pragmatic mother. Score pragmatic mum. The next step was consulting with the girl gang, after all we had sworn to be together through thick and think, and this was as thick or thin as it could get. Script prepared, rehearsals done, and a week later I sit him down and plunge headlong into the topic.

Where did you learn this word?

I didn’t write that.

It’s your handwriting sweetie. I’m not mad. I’m just curious.

Looks left, right, up, down, round about. No reply.

Baby, all I’m saying is that it’s not a nice word. It’s slang. Just the way you shouldn’t say shit, you shouldn’t say this either. See, I cant utter it either!

All the boys use it.

I’m dying, I’m really really dying on the inside, but it’s imperative I maintain a calm façade. You will understand better when they teach you about reproduction in school.

I’ve read about reproduction.

Not in botany, I mean in animals and humans.

I know about reproduction in humans. Adin and I read about it in the encyclopedia.

Well this word is just a mean way of saying that and since it’s the mean way you shouldn’t say it.

What’s wrong with reproduction?

There’s nothing wrong with reproduction.

Then why can’t I say Fuck?

Huh!

Khaos

There are many definitions for Chaos
Complete disorder and confusion.
• (physics) The formless matter supposed to have existed before the creation of the universe.
• (greek mythology) The first created being, from which came the primeval deities.

But in my life, Chaos can be defined a little differently.
Chaos – The sight that greets me when I walk into the kindergarten dormitory, of 30 boys running, shouting, playing, fighting; in short the sight of kids being kids.

My mom was an ardent reader of the mythologies, and having been brought up on a staple diet of greek mythology, I tend to draw parallels.
The Greek epic poet Hesiod tells us in his Theogony (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C) of the origins and the genealogy of the Gods. At first it was Khaos (Chaos, the Chasm/Air) that came to be, and the other Protogenoi (primordial Gods) followed. From Khaos came Nyx (night) and Erebus (darkness), and from them came Aither (light) and Hemera (day). From Nyx came many Daimones (personified spirits) like Philotes (affection and friendship), Eris (strife), the Oneiroi (dreams), Momos (complaint), the Moirai (3 fates), amongst others.

That both darkness and light come from Chaos makes a lot of sense. We see it in our children all the time, in how they manage to transform from perfect angels to terrifying hellions. As they grow up, they develop their unique balance of personalities and characteristics. The Daimones here are the many characteristics they exhibit, because each child is capable of friendship, affection, strife and complaints depending upon what triggers they have experienced in that phase space. These little children of Chaos, like the Oneiroi are capable of seeing dreams and showing us dreams. More importantly, each child has within themselves the ability to weave the story of their lives, just like the three fates (Moirai); and the terrifying part is that in this mythology, we adults, like Zeus, are capable of altering the story that is being spun.

While on the subject of Chaos, let me bring another definition here, as defined in Chaos Theory.
Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us that dynamic systems are highly sensitive to initial conditions, a response popularly referred to as the butterfly effect, and thus even a small difference in initial conditions can yield widely diverging outcomes, and that even complex systems rely upon an underlying order.
While many consider this an over stretch, I prefer to go with the psychotherapists who believe that early childhood influences on our adult experiences have parallels to the scientific concept of Chaos theory.
So once again, much like Zeus in Greek mythology, our actions have the power to affect these little children right through till their adulthood.

Coming back to my children, here’s what I surmise.
Each child’s life starts with a different story, and when they come to the orphanage they are in a state of disorder and chaos. The institute manages to introduce some order and sate the chaos for a while. But this is a dynamic system, and once again the individual and collective behaviours of others in the group serve as a flutter of the butterfly’s wings, that escalate into a gale-force wind of emotional chaos that pummels the unconscious mind of the adult. We, as the butterflies, can chose what kind of flutter we will create in that child’s life, thereby making the difference between what comes out of the Chaos, Nyx (darkness) or Aither (light), Philotes (friendship) or Eris (strife).

Chaos or Khaos is the chasm between Heaven and Earth. It is up to us to Mind the Gap.

I believe in Magic

sunrise

Yes I believe in Magic.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not referring to the conjurer, that I believe is a beautiful marriage of science and art, which is indeed magical if you really think about it, but I am referring here to the magic of creation, time, love and above all else, the magic of the human mind.

No, I do not believe in mythical creatures. Once again I am not talking about unicorns or aliens. I’m talking about the human fallacy of imagining someone as totally perfect or completely flawed. A perfect man (or woman or child) and is just as much a mythical creature as an evil one. Everyone has their shades, and it is these shades that make us magical.

Magic is not fiction; it is in symbiosis with reality, in the sights, sounds and smells of the world we live in, in birth, in evolution, in growth, in flora and fauna, in the tingling laughter of an infant, and even in the intricacies of the urban jungle. There is magic in the power of love that enables us to experience great joy over even tiny gestures, that motivates one to undergo immense hardships and toil to bring happiness and peace to another, which prompts one to sacrifice himself for another, and which soothes with just a touch. There is magic in the power of hope that carries a battered woman through life, a refugee across the border, a man adrift in a lifeboat the will to hold on, and a nation the strength to rally. There is magic in time, in its powers of healing, in its slow percolation of wisdom, in its miracle of growth. More marvelously, there is magic in the human mind, in its ability to dream, in its perseverance to transfer that dream into reality, through the power of inventions, through the sheer strength and grit of labour, or even just by projecting those dreams onto paper and celluloid, thereby taking us along with them through miraculous quests and fantastic adventures, or just gifting us with a little peek into that magical mind. There is magic in the force of human speech which can rouse, calm or regale the entire world.

So when a magical creature tells me in his magical way – yes we can, make our nation great again, good days will come, I say, O Yes.

socsbadge2016-17


Written for SoCS

Word Prompts used: Mythical, Percolate

Photo Challenge: Magic (sunrise at the beach)

13 Trivia!

Today, 13-11-16, is the day I sit down to write about Numbers, and for no good reason I pick the number 13.
Cause, you know, 1+3+1+1+1+6 = 13

magic-of-number-13

1. Mathematically it is an odd natural number. It is also a prime number, happy number, fibonacci number.

2. To create life it requires 1 sperm and 1 ovum to combine to form a zygote.
1 sperm (13 chromosomes) + 1 Ovum (13 chromosomes) = zygote (26 chromosomes)

3. In Hindi 13 is called as ‘Terah’ which means ‘yours’. In the spiritual context it represents your karmas and in Indian astrology it denotes that everything, including your soul, belongs to God. However in Tarot it signifies fickleness, transformation, death of a suffering and a renewed beginning.

4. In Judaism, 13 signifies the age at which a boy matures and becomes a Bar Mitzvah ( a full member of the Jewish faith). A child becomes a teenager at age 13, and in the US, they can watch, rent, or buy a PG-13 film without parental guidance.

5. There are 13 lunar cycles in a year (13*28=364)

6. The Base 13 numeral system is called as the Tridecimal system. Here’s how numbers are counted in this sytem –
Binary 1 2 3 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 22 23 24 25 26 27
Base13 1 2 3 9  A  B  C 10 11 12 19 1A 1B 1C 20 21

7. In some countries 13 is considered to be an unlucky number. Probably because there were 13 people around the table at the last supper and particularly because of the success of the Friday the 13th movie. In triathlon, the number 13 is not used. As such, the numbering goes 11, 12, 14, 15 under the current numbering system. The number was not used in Formula One from 1977 to 2013.

8. Psychologists have an actual term for the fear of 13 – Triskaidekaphobia

9. In other countries such as Italy, 13 is considered a lucky number, while 17 is considered unlucky. The expression fare tredici (“to do 13”) means to hit the jackpot.

10. In 1982 the World Boxing Council determined that boxers were more likely to suffer fatal injury from round 13 to round 15, therefore boxing fights were universally limited to a maximum of 12 rounds only.

11. Apollo 13 is the only unsuccessful American moon mission.

12. A Baker’s dozen is not 12 but 13 🙂

13. According to Mr Krabs on Spongebob Squarepants, there are 13 dirty words. Squidward thought that there were only 7. “Not if you’re a sailor,” Mr Krabs replied.

Winters is coming

A lot of people sneeze, but my son has been blessed with the mother load. When he sneezes, he sets off a mini hurricane. I do believe that once he masters controlling directionality, he could make an actual profession out of it. Want to clear out a mess – push everything to one corner of the room perhaps? Blow away the scattered autumn leaves or clear snow off your driveway? Take revenge on an enemy by creating chaos? Move a yacht in your preferred direction? Jump to the next street? Launch a rocket? Have no fear – the super sneezer is here. All he needs to do is point and sneeze. But that’s just petty business, lets aim bigger. Propel a wind turbine to generate enough power for the entire neighbourhood. Good clean energy. Restore the balance. I mean, he is after all, decimating an entire rain forest in tissues.
Let’s also keep in mind that there is another very useful byproduct of the sneeze business. Snot. Viable options – land reclamation, hunting or attacking (think snot-shots in lieu of air-pellets), scary-house host, keep warm in winter as a slug would (puke!!!). Well it is kind of a really yucky product and we have put as little as possible thought into it.

achoo

O Oh. I see it. The optical coals have lit up, eyeballs are badgering past their lids, the whirlpool of chest phlegm has started churning, his mouth has opened allowing the sneeze monster to enter. His roiled brains are lining up for olfactory expel. I hear the flimsy scaffold being ripped off his immune system. It can mean only one thing.
The storms a coming…the storms a coming…

Grab the handkerchief. Aim the nasal spray.

What do we say to the Lord of Death?

Not today.

Not today.

 

Daily Prompt: Hyperbole
Weekly Prompt: Chaos

Stain

My best friend in school was a fabulous singer. I was not. But we were besties, and besties do everything together. Which is how I ended up on the stage during our school’s annual day program, singing the chorus with her.
The song, incidentally chosen by the teacher, was from an old and highly successful classic movie from way back in 1952. It had a haunting melody and the black and white scenes made for a gorgeous backdrop. But at that age all that mattered was that I got to stand next to my friend in front of the entire school, thereby firmly and finally establishing myself as the undisputed best friend.

Fast forward many years and I had my precious bundle of joy, who was unfortunately severely colic. For the first few months I spent half the night trying to sooth him with my lullabies. Ofcourse I knew no lullabies, so that meant his life started with a heavy overdose of hymns, patriotic anthems, advertisement jingles and the song that my bestie had taught me.
Hush little baby don’t you cry…Mama’s going to sing you a lullaby…

Today I stand at a precipice, looking at life and living, and the words take on a new meaning. It’s a beautiful Hindi song. For those of my friends who don’t understand the language, I have roughly translated the lyrics, making a sincere effort to keep the meaning intact. Of course as with any language, the translation does not do justice to the original. Do listen to the original song too , from the movie Daagh (stain).

 

O my heart
You rather take another path
You’ve had your fill of this world of woe
It’s time to find another home to go
O my heart
you rather take
another path

To where none by grief is stricken rend
Where the stars don’t false promises portend
Where the stars don’t false promises portend
Of what use are these blooms all around
When the one bud of love is burnt to ground
Old wounds are once again torn apart
O my heart
you rather take
another path

Four tears of false commiseration were shed
Then walked away with nonchalance they turning head
Then walked away with nonchalance they turning head
Someone’s entire world was there being devastated
The earth stood a mute spectator sedated
The merciless sky not a word orchestrated
O my heart
you rather take
another path

 


Written for The Weekly Discover Challenge – Song and Daily Post Sincere

Dusk melts to Dawn

As I kick off my shoes in the foyer and wander into the house, my conscience slowly awoke to the strains of Ustad Vilayat Khan. I closed my eyes and stood still, soaking the melody in through my every pore. Raag Malhar with tabla in teental. Nothing more beautiful that the Aftab-e-sitar and Sampta Prasad playing together.
Suddenly the harsh clicking of heels on marble shreds apart the musicality and mother’s high pitch voice jarres me out of my cocoon, “O darling! You’re late. Come on, you need to take a really quick shower and get ready.”

It is only now that I notice – the fragrance of fresh flowers on the sideboard, the humongous flower basket on the obscene garish table that she had insisted on buying at some art exhibition, the buzz of the staff rushing around. The dining table is dressed in a lace tablecloth and the 24-carat gold lined crockery and antique cutlery has been brought out. Those plates terrify me. I keep imagining that someday I will place the spoon down too hard and crack it and that will put mother into one of her infamous ‘moods’ and no one likes her infamous moods, especially not the perpetrator of the crime.

The menu is elaborate with the entrées taking up half the table. Koftas, shami kobabs, golden fried prawns, baby corn fritters, paneer skewers, vegetable tikkas. The main course will arrive after the guests. I can already smell the biryani and tandoori chicken. The curtains have been pulled apart, the french door leading out into the garden thrown open, and the evening sunlight is glittering off mother’s red and gold kanjeevaram silk saree. Even as she stares at me, I focus on the big red bindi on her forehead, the thick kohl rimmed around her eyes, making them appear even larger. Her bangles jingle as she waves me upstairs.

“Whats going on?” I ask her.
“We are having a party son. It’s to celebrate your admission into the country’s premier school of technology. Your father is so proud. He’s invited everybody – our friends from the club, neighbours, his colleagues, and relatives. Go on. I’ve laid your clothes out on your bed.”
None of my friends, I observe. But I say nothing. It is not my opinion that is solicited, merely my presence.

I mount the 32 steps up to my room with an increasing sense of horror. It’s going to be another family circus where he’s going to show off his prized puppet. On my bed I find a new suit in midnight blue raw silk and a crisp white linen shirt. I don’t know where she bought it, I don’t even care, but I also know that very soon we are all going to hear about the thieving sod who designed it and the small fortune that she paid for it.

I don’t know how long I stand there, counting the weaves on it, but when Sally our housekeeper walks in, the room is pitch dark. “Baba, are you here? O baba! Why are you still not dressed? Sir is calling you down urgently. All the guests have arrived. You know how he gets when anyone is late. Please baba.”

Once dressed, I tread slowly down the stairs. The party is in progress and the air is already oppressive with the heat and smell of bodies and food. Discordant chatter, rambunctious laughter and the clanging of spoons have eclipsed the music. I know that I need to shake off this strange fog that I am in and become my happy, fun-loving self again, I need to smile and breathe. Yes, that’s it. Smile and breathe. I try to set my face into a cordial expression; a slight smile, not too much so as to look fake, but not so little that they see the dread and confusion that I am feeling inside.

Mrs. Nosy-parker notices me and lets out a loud shriek. Everybody turns to look at me. I move across the floor, robot-like, returning handshakes and politely accepting congratulations and thumps on the back and claps on the shoulder. I hear them talk about how they expected no less from the son of such a brilliant and successful technologist. The men heartily extended their compliments to my father. The women extoll on my mother’s hard work and sacrifices, of how this was all just the fruit of her prayers.
And while they all effuse compliments, I’m waiting. I’m waiting to feel good about myself. I’m waiting to feel proud that I fulfilled my parents’ dream. I’m waiting to feel like the champion that they tell me I am. I’m waiting to feel.

Do all these people really care; these people dressed in couture, who envy father’s wealth and covet mother’s jewellery and spite them both behind their backs? Does any of it really matter? Do I really care? It’s hard to explain, but somewhere inside there is a part of me desperate to get up and walk away, screaming to be set free.
I cannot bear to maintain this façade anymore. I make my way into the garden, away from the maddening crown, toward the serenity of nature. There is a leaking spout and I contemplate the sound of dripping water.
Slowly the truth sneaks up on me. Today, if I don’t gather the courage to do what I must do, then there is no tomorrow for me. I realise that with absolute certainty.

I sneak around the back way and go up to my room. With a mixed feeling of exhilaration and trepidation I turn my computer on and accept my admission to the K.H. Conservatory of Music.


Radical Authenticity

Outer Layers

What story do the things you wear tell about you?
Or
What story do you want the things you wear to tell about you?

Hey…I’m a normal female who likes to dress up and look pretty…who perks up when she receives a compliment…indulges in bling…drools over guys and diamonds (not necessarily in that order)…can loiter around in the bags section of the mall for hours…
Well, you get what I’m saying.

But you know what I don’t get?
– Women who come to an orphanage bedecked in jewellery and sporting designer labels. Way to go if your trying to make the kids even more aware of their misfortune! Not sure how many brownie points your going to score with The Maker.
– Men who would have you think that stepping out of a Rolls Royce with a Rolex on their wrist and a Mont Blanc in their pocket is better evidence of what they’ve accomplished, rather than the number of lives they’ve touched.
– People who believe that just because they are covered from head to toe it automatically makes them authorities on religion, plus confers the status of judge on them. To those who wag their fingers and preach to others I ask again, if you are passing judgement and disbursing punishment here, then what is The Good Lord Above going to do?
The Outer Layers my friend, is intended to protect and project. It’s the inner layers that actually matter.
No matter the price of the onion, the skin is peeled off and discarded.