Contemplations · Random Thoughts.

Quantum Of Solace

The last two days had been quite depleting on him. Running from one corner of the hospital to another, one counter for cash payments to another for allocation of a room, Karim had really felt as if he was never going to get out of this loop of paying bills and at the same time worrying about his ailing father whose heart had almost stopped functioning. Every now and then, the doctors ordered some new tests and he was notified of it along with the directions of the payment counter. In the last two days, he had only seen his father thrice out of which only once could he speak to him. The other times he had been too wired-up and tubed to be able elicit a word. He could only see the dilations or constrictions in his father’s eyes and the frail motions of his hand.

Depression and stress ran through Karim’s veins by now. How much could a boy of twenty bear? He hadn’t even completed his graduation. Two years into the dreamy world of college and one comes to know of one’s father ailing with something like this… A small-town boy now in the nation’s capital city tending to his ailing father almost alone. His mother almost seemed to be too confused in this high-profile hospital to be able run around doing stuff; good that Karim had been here. All through the surgery, Karim was supported by relatives from far and wide who sat there anxiously waiting to hear that all went well. Gradually everyone went back assuring him that in case of any need, they were all for him. Dad had been now shifted to the Intesive Care Unit and was to be kept there for at least three days.

As he listlessly walked back to where his mother was sitting, he saw her reciting verses from a book. He thought he saw a quick flashback of the events in the last few days, he felt weaker now. He went to his mother and sat beside her resting his head against her shoulder. A little while later, as he was sitting on the luxurious sofa, he saw his mother stand up in while two other women came from the other end of the waiting hall.

“Ho gaya? (Is it done?)” his mother asked with similar anxiousness as when she asked him about his father’s surgery.

“Ji baaji, upar wale ke karam hai, doctor sahab keh rahe hain ki operation to sahi ho gaya par hosh mein aane mein waqt lagega. (Yes sister, thanks to God, the doctor is saying that the operation was successful but it’ll take time before the patient gains consciousness.)”

He saw his mother’s face light up after a long time. As they began to converse he heard his mother remarking how difficult it would have been for the two ladies from a different nation to manage things here.

“Baaji hame kis baat ki pareshani! Ek hamara khuda hai aur aap hain. (Sister what sort of trouble could we have! There’s God with us and so are you.)”

The way that lady said this strirred something inside Karim. He looked away trying to brush other thoughts away. His father was in the ICU after undergoing a critical surgery. His father was in pain. He could not socialize in such a situation! As he looked away, he saw the reception area boiling with people with different sorts of queries. He had been one of those people a little while ago and he hoped he did not have to be there again. He looked the other side. People rushed from one room to another with cash or receipts in their hands. Stressful work. He had seen it, done it.

“It’s useless looking around here. There’s only pain that inhabits the air in here.” he thought. He went and stood near the glass door stained by drops of water. It had been raining he realized. Mist blocked his sight and he turned and looked back, now leaning on the door. Those words still rented the walls inside his head. As he looked back again, everyone was talking with everyone. There wasn’t any sort of groupism. No one was here for the sake of fun. All of them had their patients here; patients who suffered from pain. Some of them sat with their heads down, desolate until someone with a similarly critical patient came and sat near them. In no time, a conversation would begin. Those who had gone through the cumbersome procedures of the hospital often guided the others. They would talk of procedures, of timings, of infrastructure, of politics and what not. “Isn’t it inconsiderate of them to leave their patients and get involved in conversations and socialize?” he thought as if inquiring his own conscience.

“What else could they do!” They were only allowed to see their patient twice a day that too only for a five minute period. What were they supposed to do at other times? As he thought about it now, what else could they do? Were they supposed to cry all day long? What good was it going to do? But weren’t they supposed to feel the pain for the sake of the immense pain that their patient was in? Wouldn’t this air bear more pain, more toxicity then? Who could stay here then? He had himself found the air too pain-polluted, hadn’t he?

Despite one’s efforts to feel pain for the sake of empathy, it was beyond human capacity to hold on to a pain that one could not feel. But it was a strong human tendency to hold on to hope, to find that quantum of solace in the relief of others. Every time someone came back after visiting their patient and told that the condition was improving or stable, the others shared the solace of the attendant. It rekindled the ambers of hope that lay inside the hearts of others for their own patients. When someone cried, there was always someone completely unknown who came to wipe off the tears. Because with every iota of pain around them, people felt the fire of hope inside them weakening.

In the fast moving world of the present day where negligence towards others was the norm, where ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Myself’ were the only concerns, where did one find such humanity? Was amity created only to rise when someone was on the brink of losing someone or something?

Our notion of life is that of an ongoing fight wherein we sometimes win and sometimes lose. Why can’t we find that quantum of solace everyday in each other’s wins? Why can’t we give that quantum of solace everyday to those who lose? If solace is the only thing we give and take, will there be any wins or any losses? Won’t there be just life, no fight?

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Contemplations · Random Thoughts.

Lost

The house looks completely dark from outside. They’ve all probably slept. It is quite late into the night. Aditi, he thinks, would’ve dozed off in the hall itself, waiting for him. He needs to be careful. He hasn’t eaten a single ounce of food since morning; only coffee has been serving his purpose. Anyway, he begins walking towards the house. Carefully, he clicks the doorknob open. He tries to get in without making a sound. The door however, does not seem to comply with his intentions and creaks when pushed. The creak resounds in the huge dark hall and Areeb freezes in his place. He holds his breath for a moment, and then, seeing no movement, lets it out as a sigh of relief. He tightens his grip on the doorknob and with an air of courage, swings the door to its limit. No sound made. Bravo! He closes the door in a similar way and begins to walk into the house – his bag in his right hand and his jacket on the left.

Lights on!

Damn it! “You’re still awake?” Why does she have to wait for me every day! “Aditi, it’s two in the morning!”

She takes out a bowl from the refrigerator and places it in the oven, places a plate and a casserole on the dining table. Then walking back to the kitchen, she stands by the slab and whispers, “There’s some problem with this species called wives. They’d always want to see their husbands at least once a day.” The astonishment on his face is replaced by an “I’m-sorry-but-what-could-I-do” smile. He puts his bag on the floor, throws the jacket on the sofa and walks towards the kitchen. It’s a sluggish sort of walk, the one that results from exhaustion, but there’s one more job to be done.

“Aditi…” “Your children will soon forget how their father looks! Just the way you forgot that today, no sorry, yesterday was your daughter’s birthday. She kept on waiting for you to wish her, but man, you’re so damn busy! She should’ve understood that trivial things like birthdays don’t appear in your priority list. You’re busy. I understand.” she snaps with a smile of sickness.

“Aditi…” “You’re out of the house before anyone wakes up; you return when almost everyone’s asleep! Have you ever thought what your place in my life, or leave me, in your children’s life is?” Areeb had no answer. He stood there, with zipped lips and a helpless countenance. The oven beeped and she stopped to keep that bowl on the table. “Your dinner is ready, if you have time for one.”

She sat beside him while he ate at a relaxed pace. She holds his hand, now speaking in a way of concern, “The only time that you spend with us is when you’re free from your calls on Sunday. Do we hold any importance in your life?” he looked up as if taken aback. “Areeb, where are you?” His eyes had a million words to say but his mouth was mum. He finished his food and both of them walked towards their bedroom – she with urgency, he with exhaustion.

Areeb changed his clothes and soon went back to bed where Aditi had been lying facing in the opposite direction. He knew that she was angry; but more than angry, she was upset, she was concerned. The gravity of the situation could be well understood by the way he climbed his bed and began to recline; but sleeping was not the motive. She had been lying huddled up, staring at the emptiness. Her eyes were open expressionlessly – as dry as they could’ve ever been; vulnerable too. Tears came streaming down her face when she felt his touch, trying to spoon her into his embrace.

“I’m sorry…” he whispered in her ear. She almost gave in to an outburst of tears; and he could feel it. He sat up in bed, held her hand and began caressing it.

“Areeb, we miss you. I miss you. I love you and all I want from you is your time.” She said sitting up with him. “What is the use of all the luxuries of life if I can’t share them with the person I love the most!” Her voice was emphatic and pleading at the same time. “Do you remember college? I miss those times when we used to walk hand in hand around the campus. I miss those small follies that you committed to have me happy. Your small little gifts were more valuable to me than the entire world. I used to wait for the times when you’d be with me, away from all those projects and your pile of books. I used to hate it when during exams, you were nowhere to be found; but deep inside my heart I felt that that business of yours will carve out a great future for us.” Her eyes were gleaming by this time. Oh how long had he waited to see that gleam, those lightened eyes! “Who knew that you’d become a luxury that me and your family would struggle to afford!”

“I am sorry Aditi. I know that my ambitions have taken me a little away from you all, but I’ll be back! I’ll be back very soon. I promise.” He tried to be as convincing as he could, looking straight into her eyes, urging her to believe every iota of what he had said. They reclined again and Areeb was in bed until Aditi was deep into her sleep.

***

Sitting in his armchair later that night, with a pen in his hand and a diary in his lap, he looked out of the window into the dead dark world outside. Most of the houses in his neighborhood were smaller than his own.

“When you pour water inside a glass, there comes a time when it is full to the brim. That’s the moment to stop. A split-second of delay can result in an overflow. Today, I just missed that decisive moment. Aditi was awake when I returned from office today. One can easily guess what would’ve happened.

The thing to reflect upon is, “Where am I”. That question by Aditi has been echoing inside the walls of my mind.”

He looked up from his diary to give way to cogitation. He wanted to clarify and make some sense out of all the tumult that inhabited his mind. He tried thinking for some time; but the more he thought the more complex it became. Weary of all the exercise, he reclined on his chair aimlessly looking at the ceiling. He kept on looking at it – initially out of confusion, then out of concentration and finally out of inconclusiveness. But when he had stopped looking was actually when he saw something.

It had happened two days back. Bahadur, a clerk in his office, had been standing on the bus stop while it in rained cats and dogs. It was late in the night and consequently less probable that he’d find a bus anytime soon. Areeb, in his Audi, was just passing by that bus stop when he saw Bahadur. He invited the poor chap in. Bahadur resisted a bit but having no other plausible option, soon yielded. It was a downtrodden area where Bahadur lived. It was dark and the road seemed abundant in puddles.

“Since how long have you been standing here?” he said, only half looking at Bahadur. “It’s nearly two hours sir. I could not manage to exit the office at the normal time and consequently missed the bus I usually take. Maybe that was the last bus for that route!”

“So did you call up at home to inform that you’d be late?” “Battery drained sir. They’d be worried.” “Why don’t you get yourself a two-wheeler or something? You can’t rely on these buses all the time.” “Can’t even think of it sir. I have three kids, all of them in private schools. The fee does not spare anyone. Moreover, there are other family needs. We’re a middle-class family. Dining at restaurants is what we cannot do every second day. We’re better off having our meals together, talking to each other, laughing out aloud and just being good enough at what we do. Honestly, it’s not about the money. Thanks to God, I have this great job which pays me just enough to sustain a family. Just some quality time spent with my wife and children, sometimes gifting each other small things to assure that we matter to each other, small gestures to show we care, Sunday outings and at the end of the day, seeing one’s children sleep with a smile – what more could one ask for!”

“Hmmm…” He had nothing to say, only things to wonder. When was the last time he gifted his wife something she liked? Spending quality time with the family – when did that last happen? What was the most recent token of care that he had given his family?

“I guess I’ve been blabbering big time. I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m used to speaking out, expressing myself – either to my wife or my children. Oops, I’m blabbering again! Sorry.” Embarrassed, Bahadur finally shut up.”

The car finally came to a halt in front of a small cottage. It apparently had little comfort to offer. The kids came running as soon as they saw Bahadur get out of the car. “See, the care!” said Bahadur pointing to his wife’s wet eyes. Areeb saw Bahadur’s wife wipe-off her tears giving way to a smile of relief.

“Thank you so much sir”. He drove away. ‘Lucky man, Bahadur.’

As he scribbled in his diary, “Areeb, where are you? Aditi must be asking this every day; just not articulating it. Today, the water just began to overflow from the glass. Today this question was articulated. All that I wanted from my graduation was a job, just something that’ll help me sustain myself and my family. With the grace of God, I’ve attained far more than that. This was something I used to believe until now.

What happened tonight has compelled me to give it a second thought. I’ve been so ruthlessly chasing success that I’ve lost track of time. When was the last time that I read out a newspaper to my father or had the pleasure of my mother’s lap? When was the last time I took Aditi out for a dinner? Or gifted her something she loves? When was the last time I drove my kids to school? Long time… Long time!”

He almost laughed out thinking about how he had proposed Aditi. Thinking of his initial years of marriage, all the outings, the movie dates, those moments of romance and the innocence that accompanied it all, those lullabies that he used to sing for his children, those walks around the park, he had a constant smile of satisfaction on his face. Then, back to the present, and his face is deprived of all of it.

“But then, what if I stopped earning? After all, it is for my family that I work eighteen hours a day! If I stop doing what I do, how will I be able to afford this lifestyle that we have!

One thing is for sure, I’ve become successful – definitely; but am I happy? Have I made my family happy? Somewhere amidst deadlines, presentations, mergers and takeovers lies the answer to Aditi’s question, and that is, I am LOST.”

***

She is still in bed; almost awake now. She turns on the bed to see Areeb in his three-piece, hurriedly gathering his things and putting them into his bag. Seeing his wife awake, his eyes lighten up. He wishes all of yesterday was just a dream. He wishes that all that unforgiving fragment of his life was a dream. He wishes he could look into her eyes just like this forever and ever more.

“Good morning sweetheart”, he says.

His phone rings. Hurriedly picks it up and with his bag on his shoulder exits the room.

“Good morning.”

Contemplations · Tragedy

It is 5.30 pm.

It is 5.30 pm; the sun has not yet set but you won’t call it bluntly “day”. I have just finished offering the Namaz for Zohr and Asr. Just in the nick of time! Phew! My father used to be very strict about the time of Namaz. I remember; when I was a kid, he used to make me sit in his lap and kindly explain that God likes those kids who offer Namaz just about after the Azaan. Then when I became a teenager, he used to reprimand me for offering Namaz at the eleventh hour. “No need for your hurried Namaz. Allah would not mind letting go of such half-hearted favours!” I used to feel bad, but I was lazy. ‘What could I do about it?’ I used to shrug and wait for the next day’s rebuke. Then when I quit my teens, I realized that he had stopped scolding me. He had realized it that either I was too obstinate to yield or too dumb to obey. So there was no point shouting in front of a deaf ear – he must have thought. Anyways…

It is 5.30 pm; it is ‘almost sunset’, and standing here at the fourth floor balcony of my hostel room, I am reminded of Anand. In deep, depressive cogitation, he asserts that far away somewhere, this slow, intoxicating gulp in which the horizon takes the Sun in and makes room for darkness to engulf it all, makes the walls of his heart lighten up with dreams and not darken up deeper with fear. I’ve been humming this song all day, and with such a setting and a lonely room devoid of my idiot roomies, I began to sing in full flow. Despite a sore throat, despite having dwellers around me, I sang – sang as if Anand’s knowledge of life and its value was mine, as if Anand’s craving for life was mine, as if his apparent liveliness, genuine sad introspection is mine and I momentarily felt like I myself was Anand. But I’m not, I can’t be. Neither do I have all this cheerfulness about my aura, nor a sense of humour. Just poetry might connect us, but I am overestimating myself. I just remember my father in an armchair – with a thick, hard-bound book, each page with amply spaced Urdu or Arabic or Persian verses. Ghalib, Rumi, Firaaq… He could recite their verses impromptu, no need for a reference – ever!

It is 5.30 pm; there’re some strange voices, some troubled motions, some anomaly – in my stomach. But I stand still. I haven’t eaten an ounce of food since morning. The hostel mess has its own timings; and I am, more often than not, too late for breakfast and too occupied with works for lunch. I am hungry, and looking deep into the sunset, I recall my cries, when back home, around this very time of the day, I followed my mother like a young kid who wants a ‘something’ to eat – yes, a ‘something’ that even God couldn’t figure out, a ‘something’ which gets known to us only when a middle-aged woman, walking persuasively approaches a frustrated me with a bowl or plate for me to devour its contents and give that woman a tight hug of thanks, and a tighter one of love, infinite love. I seek that infinity somewhere in the sinking of the Sun. It makes me feel intimidated. Is it bigger than my infinity?

It is 5.30 pm; She’s been sitting on her study-table, well-dressed, sitting on the chair in a perfect posture, chanting some names from that dreadful Biology book. Myself, up from my undecided study spot; have somehow sneaked around to exactly behind her chair while she still chants with all devotion, her eyes closed. The next moment – yes around this very evening time – I carelessly pull out a clip from her much too careful hairdo while she shouts at the top of her already topping voice and instantaneously gets up to teach me a lesson. Standing on this balcony here, I can see us running and being ran after all through this circle that the group of hostel buildings has formed. While she brims with anger, I do the same with the ecstasy. The ultimate ecstasy at how I could trigger this anger which gradually changes to laughter; at how it happens that these much too serious fights on not too serious notes strengthen the serious bonds of love that proudly exist and live. Those roars of anger, those laughs of shamelessness, that clangor of running chappals, and the chanting of rebukes. The house used to be so noisy in these so-frequent trouble-makings! But today as it comes back to my mind, it seems too low in volume; I wish I could increase its volume, like ‘more, little more, yes that’s it!’, but I can’t. It remains low.

It is 5.30 pm; my father’s recital of Arabic verses has somehow amalgamated with and slowly subsided from those compellingly unstoppable sounds of her laughter; a laughter of mirth, of surprise, of ridicule, of warnings, and of incredibility at the abnormally great sense of humor her friends possessed. They spoke and it became a joke. I, sitting ten benches away from her, just listened, just saw. Yes it was nearly around this time, when once after completing an extra class, I saw herself with her group still whiling away time, still talking, still joking, still commenting… And I knew it well that more often than not, I was the subject of their jokes. I still wonder how a man of as serious a countenance as mine could inspire jokes. Those guys must be real comedians… ‘Is it necessary that love be generated from comedy?’, I used to think. Then answering this question with a ‘yes, of course’ to myself, I used to say it aloud, ‘I stand no chance. No way man…’

It is 5.30 pm and I recall those winter evenings when the best idea that we could come out with was to stay in bed – all four of us together, well covered with quilts while snow covered the house. I remember that obviousness in my father’s voice when he negated the Weather Department’s statement on the radio as it said, ‘The Kashmiris may have some respite from the extreme cold conditions in a couple of days.’ All this and much more; but one thing that seems to have been etched on the walls of my heart are those words by my Dad, “You might not be the most comic man of the society, you might also not be the physically strongest in the community, but one thing that not even your farthest acquaintance should be able to defy is that you were and still are a good man…” And I’ve tried to imbibe this in life.

It is 5.30 pm on this seventeenth day of the month of June. The hostel is mostly empty – the ones who are absent have obviously gone to their respective homes, the ones who are present, soon will. But I; where do I go? To the burnt out ruins of what once was my home? To whom do I go? To that ideal father who was the ‘threat to National Security’ – whose chutzpah for good was overpowered by that of the AFSPA for security, both of the nation and of the army? Or to that late loving mother who tried to defend an attempt to her better half’s murder? Or to that little sister who was destined to die because the Army wanted no witnesses?

It is still 5.30 pm, or something more maybe; does it matter?

– Also published in CSI-JMI Student Chapter’s annual magazine – “Fiction-2015”

Contemplations · Random Thoughts. · Uncategorized

The Fag

Woman_smoking_a_cigarette

Dense smoke; White puffs rising and mingling into the air, becoming one with it, amalgamating themselves to look as pure as the air itself, our rather, making it all impure. Instinct tells me that I am being watched – I look around and spot a boy in an auto-rickshaw staring at this man in his forties, smoking a cigarette in his SUV – staring at me; Stuck in the never ending traffic jam, staring straight in front, looking at nothing. What goes through my mind? Why am I unintentionally piercing it all with my sight? Or am I piercing anything at all? And all at once, my mind leaps from this air of nothingness into this boy’s thought. What is he thinking? Is it about me? His face dons an expression of disgust while never fidgeting his stare. I can see it all through the rare view mirror of my car; I can almost hear him ask out loud, “Why do idiots like you smoke? Why throw yourself into that abyss that ends only at death? Why?” I can feel him almost gasping with frustration and contempt.

“Why smoke?” he asks me, I want to ask back, “Why do you live kiddo?”

I take in a deep, strong puff. It almost burns my lungs, I am about to cough, but I gain balance as I have against all atrocities of life. I can instantly shape a metaphor. What is this life but a burning cigarette? There are countless entities who smoke, all of that smoke disappearing into the air, transforming the blanket of air into a blanket of smoke, converting the atmosphere to the kapnosphere; just the same way the sighs given out in disgust by people like me mingle into that huge pool that accommodates the disgust of the entire world. We sigh at all times, sometimes at failures in academics, at other times at a colleague’s promotion and having ourselves left out, sometimes in disgust with the disrespect that our kids show us, or sometimes just at the squalid condition of our neighbourhood. It’s a continuous process, just as smoking is.

We are aware of the carcinogens that enter us with smoke, the Carbon Monoxide that burns everything as soon as it finds a way in, yet we smoke just as we continue to live despite the continuous blows that life throws at us in the face. We the humans live in a continuum of failures, aware of all the damage every passing second is entitling us to. We acknowledge the fact that one cannot come out of life alive, yet we let it do all the damage it can. We are a mob of those who surrender, who are well versed with this art – surrender with a valid excuse. Isn’t the same true for cigarette? We surrender to the cancer with the excuse of the short lived pleasure that it provides.

It burns and burns, burns till all we are left with is the butt, and we try to extract the last iota of smoke that might be left, we hold on to it till the end just as we do with life. Each and every passing moment symbolizes the end that we are slowly but consistently approaching, but does one abhor anything more than the end, anything more than death?

The smoke has been rising, and instead of entering my lungs, I think it has entered my mind, reaching out to every neuron, burning every nerve ending, blocking all thought, blocking it all. Things begin to blur, no more can I pierce the space with my stare, nor am I able to see the boy in the rare view mirror, no wait, I see a smirk on his face, and then the smirk subsides. I can hear some loud sounds, people are honking. But I have imitated the smoke.

The cigarette has reached its end.

Contemplations · Random Thoughts.

My Protection, My Escort… My Society!

Perhaps you would not disagree with me when I say that most of man’s attempts at introspection are soon transformed into critiques of all those who surround him. Let’s elaborate.

Introspection, in common terms may be understood as an occasional dive into the dunes of time to analyze and categorize one’s life, decisions, and occurrences. When one attempts at introspection, he keeps all his actions under the scanner and formulates an unbiased report. Unbiased; A lovely word, an embodiment of justice in itself, wonderful to pronounce, encouraging to hear, but to inculcate… Question mark! Man unbiased towards himself; Strange?

‘Competition’ would be an irrelevant word in that case. Selfishness is a feeling, more of a belief, an undoubting one; an unflinching opinion that if I committed a mistake, there has to be a stimulus, a person that causes so. Somebody else has to be responsible for my mistake. It’s unflinching, you see. That, I suppose, gives an ample of a backing to my opening sentence, “…critiques of all those who surround him.”

The question then arises, “Why not straightforwardly shun these that stimulate us to err, to make mistakes? Why not practice a complete abhorrence and consequently, approach perfection?” We, however, first need to identify, who are these that surround us? And why do they do so? ‘Interfere’ is the word. Why do they interfere?

In the most primitive of times, man devised the method of living in groups, with others of his own kind, to survive hostilities, to act each other’s shield. Okay, a bit of a nomenclature change will have the deeper meaning rise to the surface; today, they serve as ‘scapegoats’. It is self-evident, neither was man singly able to survive then, nor is he now. He needs someone as a companion, he needs those who surround. Just the uses have changed, evolved over the period of time. Prehistoric man used his companions as a shield to protect himself from hostilities; twenty first century man uses his society to climb up the ladder of success while not having to single-handedly bear the burden of all his failures. I added something…

There is a positive and very integral side to ‘interferences’ also. Not only does the society come in handy as ‘scapegoats’, it is also a stimulus for man’s success, his advancement on the success ladder… ‘Expectations’ is the word. Society can, very justifiably, be dubbed as a most bountiful organization that happens to find in everyone some or the other talent- depending upon the society’s eligible discretion- and then goad him into intense, often unwanted, action such that the victim ends up finding himself somewhere unexpected yet desirable. A most plausible and suitable example lies in deciding the career of a person. His society that includes his closest as well as his farthest acquaintances very interestingly begins to decide for him what career he shall choose, mind you, their decision is often non-concurrent with that of the person himself. There are some fighters who carve their way out of the odds, and there are submitters who let themselves drift in the direction that appeals to the society; but what actually is concurrent is the fact that both of them ultimately land on the zenith. The time certainly differs, but not the destination. And that’s all what matters, I believe!

I believe I have been- if not completely then to a great degree- able to convince you that the positive aspect of society is too valuable and dominating to be overlooked upon. However, if it’s all about society, then why did I start with introspection? Introspection, as I have previously made clear is the activity wherein man looks into himself, sees and ponders over everything that makes a part of him. Society is inevitably as important and inseparable a part of a man’s persona as is his own soul. This is the reason as to why during his errands into himself, man finds society very much ready to meet him, ready to be pondered over, ready to be blamed, ready to be named… Beginning with introspection was no mistake I suppose?

Society makes you err. Wonderful is the fact that how amidst the comedy of errors, it conducts you to the apex.

Undoubtedly, it makes you put in a tremendous amount of effort, and at times you almost give up the battle that you fight not for yours but the society’s will; but then it is it wise to shun it? Is it wise to neglect its role as a stimulus for errors, as a scapegoat, and finally as an escort to success?

Contemplations · Love · Random Thoughts.

Down The Love Lane…

“Loving you has made me love myself”, “He cared”, “He just let me be me… That was the most important thing that brought me close to him”; each and every word in these lines bombarded against the walls of his heart, and brain. It all circulated in a whirlwind in his head, converting all that was in it into a tumultuous, chaotic piece of crap. Loud explosions, deafening explosions, created such a harsh situation that he almost gasped in that so open, abundant with air highway which he had been walking. His walk lacked the brisk pace that was its characteristic; he lacked the vitality that had always been his constant companion. Devoid all physical, mental, and emotional strength and balance, he just moved. He had read it all, read it last night, read it innumerable times since then, and each time he scanned that letter, he was even weaker; but this self-torture was what- according to himself- he deserved. He deserved to be obliterated into innumerable unrecoverable granules such that his body, mind, and soul seized to exist. The letter had come to his as a revelation, or rather, as a realization of the infidelity of his soul, his opinions, his observations, his very existence. That day he was just a block of mud, moving but not walking, looking but not seeing, saying but not talking. He reached home and found his sister humming the song where the singer congratulated the love of his life on being successful in love- in her love with a man, who was not the singer himself, and he found the burden just too heavy to carry, his sorrow too widespread to conceal within his corporeal frame, but he had to. He just let his lachrymals activate themselves. Maybe even that was a mistake, for he soon found tears too abundant to be allowed to exit his self. He was soon sitting squeezed up on his bed with a sense of fear, and defense; but another fear made itself prominent- the fear of becoming an object that prompted widespread questions. He feared being questioned, he was sick of lying- first lying to himself about the existence of an intense love for her, then to everyone who saw a possibility of that love, then to the depressing aura, saying that he was good and such things happened. He was sick now; but wasn’t it pitiable that he had not a single soul to share his excessive melancholy? This thought proved all the more intense a stimulus for his lachrymals and he could hardly control his groans.

Hours later, he was just sitting there, still frightened, but now on the lane of time, back into the memories of when he was happy.

He sat on the first bench in his classroom with no partner, none found it amusing to sit with him, he was a different, rather an odd one in that class. His dominating expression of seriousness and contemplation looked annoyingly boring to all such that hardly anyone wished to bless him with a talk. Neither did he yearn for their friendship. He was happy to dwell among the poems that he wrote and the thoughts that he had in mind. He would have been happiest to have his head sunken into his books or his thoughts had she not been in the class. She sat among her ‘new’ and ‘more interesting’ friends on the last benches of the class. Once a great friend and companion-when-possible, she now had new friends who matched her type of merry-making and whom she thought good, and who brought him to utter contempt whenever they could, given his odd nature. He would not bother. All that interested him was she; all that had him desperate was she and the never-expected development of awkwardness between them. He hated that lack of words when the two of them ever came face-to-face. He hated those friends, being conscious of whose watch, she hurried away from him. But his love was not enslaved by the talks or smiles. He could love her by just being conscious of her presence, by being able to paint her portrait in his mind. In that way he was always conscious of her presence, because she lay there within his conscience. He loved looking in her direction, observing her smile at something said; observing her when she put on her glasses, and also when she did not; observing her finger driving all locks of her black hair behind her ears; observing and admiring the face that emerged thereafter. He loved her  because she was his friend, because she was a wonderful girl, because she was all that he had wanted to be- an epitome of virtues, because she was the genuine herself and never wished to imitate anyone. He would just sit in front and look back where she sat, look at her and ensure she was not annoyed, ensure she was not bored- that may sound odd, ensure that she was secure and in a way ensure that he was secure. His idea of love was all about coexistence and responsiveness.

In those days, the days that followed Eid, her absence had prompted him to take to her abstract avatar in the mind. It was the fourth day, and he had been sitting in the classroom reminiscing about their long talk over SMS the previous day when she walked in with her red and black school bag and her metal water bottle, and had his heart pounding. Courtesy the absence of her new and dear friends, she greeted him good morning to which, unexpected as it was, he responded with a stammer. He loved it when she called his name and specifically stressed upon the depth and length of the first syllable of his name which was followed by a smooth flowing remaining part of his name. The day had begun on the highest note in quite a few weeks. The last time when they talked well was when both of them were among the participants of the ‘Commonwealth Day’ debate.

There was something different and positively strange about her ways that day. She walked with a greater elegance and gracefulness, she talked in tones that were lesser in volume than those in which she previously did, she had changed her spectacles and the dark black, full-frame ones were replaced by the frame-less glasses with light supports; right from her elegant mascara to her beautiful hairdo, everything about her prompted an aura of beauty, mirth, positivism, elegance and care. Regaining his equilibrium, he said, ‘You’ve transformed dear! What made you bring out this revolutionary avatar of yours?’ and she echoed the words from one of his SMSs from last night conversation, ‘A woman realizes her true self only when made to do so by a man.’ Things stirred…

Very much logical to a heart in love, he took the man to be himself. The days that followed saw a sea change in her attitude towards him, she had once again begun to talk well to him, share her thoughts with him, laugh with him, yes, he actually recovered his dormant sense of humor as if to realize and make it known to her that it was not he who had gone away, it was just that others had come nearer to her. And months passed with his levels of ecstasy rising each day, each moment. Then he proposed…

Facebook chats one day reminded her that he had once said that there were many people who loved her, and one of them was very close to him. On being pressed further, he had promised to reveal the name by the end of the year. And it was December when she was reminded. This time the requests had turned to be threats, threats of ending friendship. Obviously, he had to yield, he wanted to promote friendship to love, what if the friendship itself ended!

And so it happened that after the Chemistry examination, there she stood to listen all that he had written in that email confessing his love. When he saw her standing, waiting for him, his heart would just not stop wanting to leap! He reached and he spoke, he spoke with fear, with doubt, with stammers, with hope, with love… He told her that his love for her was as pure as the ice on the mountains, as the intentions of an angel… It was not a romantic incarnation of desire but a true expectation of nearness, not a demand for intimacy but an assertion of his wish of never having to watch her go away, not a longing for unison of bodies but that of souls, not a want of imposing his life on her but of sharing it… He made her know that what mattered to him was the beauty of the soul which was more abundant in her than the abundance of happiness in heaven. He once again spoke out his heart, spoke till the very limits of his equilibrium, spoke before she finally said, ’I am dating someone since the last six months.’

She spoke much more, spoke how she cherished each and every moment that she had spent with him, saying that she was sure that he would get someone better than herself, saying much more, if only he was conscious enough to hear it…

That was the first time that he had experienced devastation prompted by his misunderstandings, the faux pas of opinions and observations had left him azoic. He was shaken when she told him that her man was five years older than her, lived in the U.S., worked for an esteemed firm, and earned in dollars, and that both their families wanted them to be together. Blunder number two, he took her decision to be submission to the will of her family. He respected her even more; but he decided to maintain distance, not a distance of talks or smiles, but a distance of emotions…

This letter, the one that prompted this remembrance had made it just so worth blaming himself! It told him that it was not submission but real love that endeared her to the American and dragged her away from him; it told him that he had been stupid enough to think that she ever was near to him… He now knew that he deserved obliteration!