Artificiality


They took away the only thing that held me
Cheap, clever girls with their red, red lips
Gloss, they tasted of mint
Hooked to the luscious body of an old maid
Dying within her
But on the outside she burns pink
Like a cherub’s cheeks

They panted underneath and I
Became a breathing edifice of horror
Oh! That absolutely enchanted look
Can it be that it’s not real?
Is it only just something painted on
By another senseless human being?

And so they told me I wasn’t really flying
Only like a kite held up by a string. But I
Breakfasted with those women anyway
Did you know they had things to do at dawn
Flying pantyhose and curled up wigs
A jumbled up rope lay on the floor, even.

I lit my first cigarette- the ash tray enlightened me
Of a clandestine venture in the deep darkness
But with sunshine and lit skies it wasn’t real
There were some children somewhere
Not here but gut-wrenchingly near enough
How was I to know?
It was morning and I
A creature of habit, a creature of the night.
I didn’t really belong here.

 

The more poems I have been writing, the more often I have started to feel- not judgmental or in any way emotionally associated to what the poem represents, but just like an objective, impartial observer whose only job is to express a certain viewpoint. So I often find myself in the shoes of an imagined character, often whipped up on the spot. This person can be talking about anything- an incident I might have actually had, but more often than not, one I imagine somebody having. In that moment I am on another plane. I’m someone else and it isn’t my job to question objectives or motives but just to put into words certain emotions this character might have undergone. Poems always have helped me think in shades of grey (not fifty). And so these poems- dark, serious, sarcastic, ironical or anything else- are just a means for me to be (or try to be) an impartial witness to the phenomena of people’s lives. Cheers!

That Song.


You looked up
The stars in your eyes
And just like that, I
Forgot all the reasons why
I wrote you that song

You talked of a beat
Naked in the heat
A sob escaped into the sky
And just like that, I…

I whispered for a few moments
Alone in the  twilight
With these words just a dying sigh
And just like that, I…

I waited for a little while
A strange little signal from heaven
But it was just a bitter lie
And just like that, I…

I saw some tears fall like rain
It was just the pain
Of losing you from such a high
And just like that, I…

I lay canopied by my sudden cries
Those fearful moans deep in the night
The memories from when we really tried-
It all became worthless after a mile
And just like that, I
Forgot all the reasons why
I used to hum that little song

Starry Symphony


How accidentally
Almost as if it was
Always meant to be
I stood under the moon door
And watched the admonishing
Stars adore
The night sky, licking it silver-bright
A channeling of pretty fairy lights
It stood out for a mile and half
That sullen, sunken, stubborn laugh
The changing of the summer guard
After the merry day with a drunken bard

The terribly painful tune atones
And suddenly the darkness groans
What’s held within needn’t come out right
As long as I fall from the height
I’ll play truant to the wild party
And chase butterflies beneath the tree
How  wonderful
These memories pulled like thread on a spool

That Enchantress- she feels the might
The utter sprinkling delight
Meandering just the way She was
She’ll be so much more than a forgotten clause
On paperwork long buried still
I wouldn’t want her hidden skill
To be open to the sunlight
It isn’t just easy
To be so quietly breezy

So it was that I took the trip
Without meaning my heartbeat took a skip
I read A Mad Girl’s Love Song and swooned
Over the pithy verses, looned
By symphony, feeling quite fazed
And hence the summer skyward gaze
It rang into my ear and I
Stood listening to those heavy sighs

A Good Girl


In an inimitable manner
I can
Call myself a good girl and then
I go
Do these crazy things
These wild, irrevocably disastrous things

I’ll drive myself up a wall
Or just sit and be a wallflower instead
Either way
I am playing with fire
And then
Dousing it by myself everyday

How wonderfully weird it feels
This label I don’t shirk from
Only, sometimes between the shrieks
I wonder
Questioning the premise
Why. What. How.
I don’t want to know
I don’t want to fully unleash
Those dull monsters.

The Fault in Our Stars


A story about two teenage cancer patients battling questions of life and death in their own different ways and then they fall in love. I know it sounds like a soppy drama with the cheesiest of lines- the kinds of movies that make PMSing women cry into their handkerchiefs on the couch on a Saturday evening.

But it’s not.

So I had been avoiding the idea of this book (or movie) for a while now. Because I just don’t do sentimental-cry-all-night movies. It’s just not me anymore.

But some amount of moody bitterness kicked in yesterday and I thought, hey. Why not do something crazy?

Crazy for me, apparently, is now reduced to watching self-proclaimed love stories as movies, breaking the book-lovers book-before-the-movies-always rule, and after-hours at that.

Rebel.

But but but.

This wasn’t just a love story. It wasn’t about jittery, heart-fluttering, unattainable demi-Greek-God-like men with chiseled chests and dreamy eyes and gorgeous, chic women with hour-glass figures.

This was simply about two kids who are dealt a bad hand and they don’t know what to do with it. Except that perhaps they do.

While he struggles with an amputated leg and goes around looking for something heroic to achieve, with an unlit cigarette between his lips to show the world how he is playing with death but not giving death the chance to ever play with him, she carries around and rereads the same book about what dying would feel like and believes that everything is probably pointless and the only meaning we derive from life is temporary.

“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

What strikes me is how, when I have been pondering over the same questions, this movie provided a different way of looking at something I’ve known. Yes, we’re given to mortality and it hangs like a doom over our heads. Yes, it won’t be long before we are dust. But in the meantime, we cannot suspend the little things we do. We do them because we do them. And we have to keep doing them because to stop would mean the same now as it would when our bodies naturally collapse- either way, it makes no difference. So perhaps the only thing to look for is that elusive bitch- happiness and to feel everything we ever can, while we can.

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”

There is nothing else to be said. Watch or read this story because it will touch you. And we need more things to do that.

Of course, it helps that the movie includes a trip to the Anne Frank Memorial.

I Am the Only Being Whose Doom


How strange it is that I find the kind of solace in poetry that I cannot with any other human being. It is on moments like these, when reading the thoughts of someone long dead makes me think about how much more I can relate to their despondency than to the jubilant superficiality I succumb to everyday, all the time. So, for example, this poem called I Am the Only Being Whose Doom by Emily Bronte:

I am the only being whose doom
No tongue would ask no eye would mourn
I never caused a thought of gloom
A smile of joy since I was born

In secret pleasure – secret tears
This changeful life has slipped away
As friendless after eighteen years
As lone as on my natal day

There have been times I cannot hide
There have been times when this was drear
When my sad soul forgot its pride
And longed for one to love me here

But those were in the early glow
Of feelings since subdued by care
And they have died so long ago
I hardly now believe they were

First melted off the hope of youth
Then Fancy’s rainbow fast withdrew
And then experience told me truth
In mortal bosoms never grew

‘Twas grief enough to think mankind
All hollow servile insincere -
But worse to trust to my own mind
And find the same corruption there

Why is it that I feel today how completely this poem resonates everything I ought to and yet ought not to feel? I will not sit here feeling sorry for myself or for anyone else. I do not remember the last time I felt self-pity. I am so glad I learnt to forgo that vile emotion. Perhaps it was on reading these words from The Fountainhead that I was stirred into action against it:

“This is pity,” he thought, and then he lifted his head in wonder. He thought that there must be something terribly wrong with a world in which this monstrous feeling is called a virtue.”

And so I do not know what to do with this- the terribly sinking feeling within. The feeling that all of life is nothing. Just an unhappy, unplanned disaster.

Am I to be like one of those poets and writers whose thoughts charm me with the sheer force of their despondency? Why am I attracted hard and fast to anything even slightly romantically destructive? Like soldiers who want to die in glory on the battlefield, thinking that their greatest joy ever will be in a posthumous reward and that their families ought to rejoice more from such a glorious ending than mourn the fact that there is, at all, an ending, do I really and truly want to be envied for walking on a thin line outlining feelings akin to depression? How and what can tumble me over? I don’t know. But there is this fear that some day, something will. If I follow the script that I created in my mind. Well, how inevitable it is that whatever must and can happen, will. It isn’t as though I have a say in the matter.

One day there is hope, the next there is just a blanket of utter darkness falling over everything. I tend to remember with some fondness those days of 2008 when I couldn’t move my feet. When I found myself crying at 8 a.m. and it seemed that even at the age of sixteen life was only the absence of everything and the presence of hopelessness. It isn’t the worst I’ve seen but it might be the worst I have been. And I am afraid of going back there, visiting that place even in my dreams.

I don’t think about that now. It’s easy not to when you’re twenty-two and the possibilities seem endless anyway. But I know I won’t always be twenty-two. I’ll be fifty some day and these thoughts will catch up to me. I will be older and unsure of where this is going. I cannot let myself go to something just for the sake of it. And so this must go on.

 

 

A Grown-Up


What you don’t understand
Is that I am a grown-up
I no longer need the firm hand
Of someone else. Guiding me
Across the road. Over the moon-
Whatever it is.

I can do it all by myself
I’m an adult in a world run by adults
You see
There can be no knowing
Where my own thoughts will lead me
And nobody who would want to know.
I’m a grown-up.
Oh! You sweet, simple child
Why can you not understand this
I am a grown-up – a grown-up.

Object


Why would I declare
All the wrath of misery
On a mere object
An unbroken component
Of the atoms of the universe
What right have I
To demand for it to bring forth
Noble emotions it knows not exist

Indeed why would I
Wish all those feelings of ill will
That erupt like tiny needles through skin
On another person-
They too are
Just what I am
Playthings. Only that.
Objects.

Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin


Retired. Haunted. Alcoholic. Smoker. Rebellious. Cheeky. Dark. Old School. And yet on the side of the law. Rebus is everything he has ever been and more as he takes the front seat in another great murder mystery by Ian Rankin.

Rebus is digging skeletons from closets, trying to fill his spare time with long-closed but unsolved cases instead of just liquor and music records. Boxes in a room with pages upon pages full of transcripts, notes and reports about victims who never got justice. His aim is to be back on the squad. The retirement age has taken  an upward swing and he is eligible again. Of course, the skeletons in his own closet mean he is under the strictest of scrutiny. A determined young officer is eager to see Rebus fall of the bandwagon. And yet, somehow, Rankin has you believe it’s a good idea to follow your dark and dangerous hero over to the other side and root for him when he’s on to the big stuff and cry with him when he turns back from his daughter’s door, choosing instead to call  her from miles away and being okay with just hearing her voice.

And then a mother comes into the picture. Convinced that her daughter, who had disappeared years ago, had actually been murdered by a serial killer. Almost nobody else had believed her but Rebus chooses to carry the box of files she claims are linked, back to his empty house and examine them at leisure.

While a hunch starts to take over him, another missing girl leads him to the conclusion that something isn’t right in these sporadic disappearances. And the ever-resourceful Siobhan Clarke is going to find that once more, having Rebus around would be as advantageous as it would be a pain-in-the-ass.

I just love how dark and deadly stories become in the hands of Rankin. He paints Edinburgh as a thriving, throbbing monster. He deals with Rebus with unforgiving bitterness and yet pulls him through in the end. I wouldn’t be very surprised if one of these days Ian Rankin decides Rebus has had a full life and must now fall to his own grave. I don’t expect a Sherlock-esque protest for rebirth. Rebus would just have to be a good man and stay dead.

In the meantime, retired or not, he is full of acid sarcasm and the best of crazy ideas as he chases murderers through the deep ends of Scottish country and her rain-drenched cities.

A slight complain from this book. Towards the end I was still expecting a more staggering truth to grasp me but that never came. There was one and only one conclusion and past it, I was left with a little bit more desire. That being said, Rankin’s books never fail to haunt me, at least for a night or two.

It’s just not another man’s grave every time, is it?

The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras (Amish Tripathi)


(I had to do a combined review of these books because I wouldn’t have known what to say if I didn’t.)

The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras are the second and third parts respectively of a trilogy following a fictionalized human manifestation of the Hindu god Shiva.

Amish Tripathi writes with straightforwardness and with the best of intentions, no doubt. But his books leave much to be desired. Is it okay if I call him AT for the rest of the review?

First thing that strikes me throughout the series is that AT lets his characters talk colloquially, often with hilarious consequences.
So, for example, we have Kali tell Sati that she has always been ‘daddy’s little princess’. And Veerbhadra teases Parvateshwar and his wife by exclaiming, ‘get a room, you two!’. And Shiva says things like ‘Oh hell’ and ‘Shit!’

The characters are pretty much linear too. When they do decide to develop complex,  conflicting emotions like real humans do, they come through as over-chewed cardboard cutouts.

It is strange to me that while Shiva talks against blind belief, the openness to question existing rigid systems, including changing some aspects of existence which had apparently been introduced by Lord Ram (he justifies this by saying this is what Lord Ram would have wanted and he knows that because he is the much-proclaimed Neelkanth), he chooses to chant god’s name and pray every day. But I found it rather amusing.

Keeping the initial story intact, AT weaves a human life for Shiva but in the process, perhaps in his need to maintain the semblance of the legend, he lets the plot take absurd turns. His characters often talk illogically.

Case in point?

 Parvateshwar, Shiva’s General and staunchest supporter makes some of the most foolish proclamations and declarations a clever man can ever be expected to make. He isn’t the only one though. Logic is given a big kick out of the window but instead of replacing it with something believable, AT chooses to let the plot limp along. Until…

And I must stress that this was, for me, the saving point of the series. The ending.
It wasn’t what I expected. Perhaps this was because AT chose to follow the original plot without modifying it into something that would please his mainstream audience a lot more. And I see across the internet, a volley of complaints launched at him for going down this particular road. People don’t want to see their hero suffer. God forbid if a God be reduced to something less than all-knowing, all-powerful and completely, one hundred percent invincible.
But I liked that.
In the end, I liked AT for putting a modern spin on Shiva’s tale. I liked how he treated the issues of caste-ism and gender. I liked, for the most part, the values he tried to impart in a manner that people might enjoy.

So although the plot fell short with loopholes abound, what I really enjoyed was how it came together in the end. It was the redeeming part of the story, the reason I felt it was okay that I spent time on the trilogy. Ultimately, I enjoyed the flawed but likable protagonist Shiva and his immediate family.

And they’re making a movie out of this?

Oh no. :/