The Oathkeeper: GOT Season 4 Episode 4


*Spoiler Alert*

Possibly one of the most interesting episodes of this season so far and we’re talking about a season where four episodes in we have witnessed the death of a major antagonist and a controversial incestuous rape scene between the Lannister twins. But what this episode did was give us a lot of food for thought. As a reader of the books, I was more excited to see not just a flesh-and-blood version of things I’ve already read and imagined in my head but a veering off from the main course into unchartered, unmapped territory. Ladies and gentlemen, Game of Thrones has at least partly, gone off the GRRM Song of Ice and Fire books radar.

 

“I will answer injustice with justice”

After Daenerys storms Meeren by a stealthy night-time mutiny involving former-slaves instigating the ones trampled beneath the feet of their masters to raise arms  (knifes) and breaking the proverbial and literal chains, she takes the city and climbs to a high point from where she orders 163 of the masters to be nailed (crucified) cruelly in much the same way as she had witnessed the nailed children marking every mile on her journey to the city. And then perched atop the Meeren pyramid, she surveys her terrible new conquest, which is to be her domain (book spoiler coming up) for a long time yet. And while people may rightly question whether her sense of ‘justice’ was not, in fact skewed, there remains the question of how bad a revolt does she want on her hands? Perhaps she did not foresee the one that is coming anyway, when she ordered the merciless crucifixions of those masters but maybe this was her way of telling them that freedom will be strictly imposed! It’s hard to know what the characters are thinking on a show unless they express it in so many words because you have no access to the thoughts.

“A man with no motive is a man no one suspects. I’d risk everything to get what I want. My new friends are predictable and reasonable people. As for what happened to Joffrey, well, I think it was something my new friends wanted very badly.”

Littlefinger reveals his plot to the innocent and yet-naive Sansa with a flourish- telling her how the necklace Sir Dontos had given her played an important role in the death of the horrendous young king. While he plans to marry Sansa’s aunt at the Eeyrie where he means to keep Sansa safely protected, he is reaching out with his little fingers into the realms of kings. And he does chime that he will risk everything to get everything.

At the same time (or so) Lady Olena reveals to her granddaughter Margaery that of course she wouldn’t have let the poor little girl stay married to a tyrant like the obnoxious Joffrey. Margaery had been all prepared to take on the role of loving wife and generous queen hanging on the arm of a quickly distracted and sadistically explosive husband but now she must turn on her charm-o-Tyrell for the young Tommen who is on the other side of the spectrum. Innocent, gullible, lovable and cute, the new king is as far from evil as his brother was close to it. And so starts the power struggle for control over him by the two women who will fight to be the all-powerful ruler.

If I told you to find that murderous little bitch and bring me her head, would you do it?

 

While Tommen is vulnerable and in danger, Cersie for now is concerned only about his protection. She and Jamie share a curt, cool scene where they’re both partly formal. And though Cersie confronts her brother and lover, it becomes clear to her that he is on the side of Tyrion and Sansa for he refuses to kill either of them.

‘It will be our secret. If we’re going to be man and wife we’ll have a few secrets from her I hope’

And while Cersie reels under this disaster with a wine glass always in her hand, Margaery takes advantage of the opening to sneak into Tommen’s room and win over his loyalty, which isn’t difficult because he is immediately swooned over by the pretty girl who is to be his future bride, creeping into his room in the middle of the night and lighting candles. There’s a lot of seduction inside the little girl (she’s supposed to be) who is to take her third husband and hasn’t had any marriage consummated.

“I say the best swords have names. Any ideas?” 
“Oathkeeper”

Jaime Lannister does the right thing once again (beyond last week’s rape) by handing over the freshly forged Valyrian steek sword to Brienne and entrusting her with a task and with Podrick Payne. The task is to find Sansa and keep her safe because that’s the promise he made to Lady Stark and although she is dead, he will keep the promise. And in return Brienne takes her leave from him after naming the sword in his honor. Whether this unlikely duo will ever meet each other again or not needs to be seen.

“Our survival may depend on us getting to this mutinous before Mance does.”

But some of this episode’s most interesting developments took place at and beyond the wall. There is a Jon Snow uprising at the wall; whether the Commander-in-Chief likes it or not, the black-cloaked men are behind Snow. Showing military acumen and cunning beyond what he is given credit for (‘You know nothing Jon Snow’), he is getting ready to gather a group of men and head north of the wall for Craster’s Keep, meaning to suppress the turn-cloaks who have made camp there before the wildings led by Mance get there and discover how unmanned and easily take-able Castle Black really is.

And at Craster’s Keep the turn-cloaks have taken Craster’s wife-daughters for their own, raping and beating them and sacrificing a newborn as ‘tax’ to the White Walkers in return for safety. It is not a pretty scene. Nor is the site of Jon’s direwolf Ghost caught in a cage and taunted at.

“And I thought this was going to be another boring day”

But this is where the show takes a major turn from the books because Bran and his troope are nearby and they get captured by these turned Night Watchmen. While the Reed twins struggle against what is to be an assault, Bran reveals his truth to Karl by yelling out loud, ‘I am Brandon Stark of Winterfell’. Jon Snow’s brother, not to mention the high-born heir to Winterfell.

Where the show is going with this storyline is exciting and unexpected for book lovers. What I predict is that Jon Snow will storm the Keep and save his brother, perhaps have a reunion (or maybe just a goodbye from afar) along the way before Brandon will insist upon continuing with his journey towards the three-eyes crow. Of course, with Game of Thrones you can never tell but this clear departure from the storyline is exciting.

So is the sneak-peak into Kingdom White Walkers as an innocent baby is given up to the undead in a chilling closing sequence of cold-clawed conversion from wide-eyed baby to icy-blue zombie. Giving the White Walkers this third dimension was a wonderful turn of events because so far we’ve only seen them walking purposelessly through the snow. It’s funny how often we forget that they’re a part of the show because we’re so involved in the politics down south that we refuse to see how irrelevant all of that will become once the White Walkers start descending. Even though the Jon Snow storyline is continuously haunted by undead-references, their fight against the wildlings takes precedence over the rest. If the dragons are ultimately going to be pitted against the White Walkers, for now they are so far off that it’s hard to expect any collisions until the very climax of the series.

Still with all these tweaks that the show has brought in, this episode was thrilling and brilliant.

Until next week.

 

Open Letters Part Three


Dearest S.

Two years ago I wasn’t very hopeful about what coming back to college would feel like. A lot of me had corroded away and like a snake shedding away an old layer of skin but vulnerable yet in the new one, I wasn’t comfortable with the metamorphosis. I also admit that it never was easy to make friends with me. I used to take forever to open up and it used to be a slow and somewhat painful process. But you persisted! For some reason, you kept pushing through my walls until they fell to pieces on the floor. You’re one of the few people who’ve worked so hard on me. I still don’t know why you did it but I am so glad you did. If you hadn’t, I don’t think I would have gotten to a stage where I feel confident enough to walk into the big scary world and trust myself enough to know that everything will work out, not just because it’s meant to but because I can make it.

Every day with you is kind of like a picnic because it’s full to the brim with things to laugh about and be playful about. I don’t know if you make me a child or I make you a child but whichever way it goes, in each other’s company we tend to go partly insane. Even in the middle of a serious conversation, we can turn the tables and give way to laughter and that, I believe, is the best thing about being with you.

You don’t give up or give in the way I do and I’ve learnt resistance from you. I’ve learnt worldliness and pragmatism from you too because with the idealistic worldview that I often tend carry around, I wouldn’t get much further than ten feet in this cat-mouse world of plotting and intrigue. In your company I have learnt about true stability and about daily happiness. I couldn’t be an ’emo kid’ anymore because you wouldn’t let me and I am so glad I got to this stage. If I must tell you the very truth, you have been a big part of me wanting to change the way I look at life. I was seeing things from far off, probably through a telescope. I didn’t want to get more directly involved in my own life. I was afraid of looking up at a lot of things- the world just seemed scary. But I’ve learnt that scary is not the only thing the world is. It’s a bittersweet adventure but that’s just it! It’s an adventure. And adventures are awesome. In fact, as Bilbo Baggins would say

That’s the way you’ve made me feel about life. About dreaded afternoons and about having conversations. About walks or just casually hanging out. You have made me love so many things I never thought I would love before.

And I know people can make things horrible for other people. It has happened to both of us, in different and yet similar ways. And it took us both down but we came up. You found me and through you I found a kind of friendship I didn’t dare think I would. I was very wise and very slow about letting you filter through my defenses. I was on my guard when I needn’t have been. I was careful every step of the way because I didn’t want to walk through a door and fall down a pit. Instead I walked out into a colourful new world I didn’t expect to see at a time when everything seemed pointless and I was numb. I don’t think this radical change would have been possible without you. I wish we had found each other sooner than we did. Two years seem like a little too less. There was more fun to be had.

But we’ll make up for it in the future. There’s that Queen-esque Europe trip that we’re definitely going to take together and be liberated in. Hanging on to that thought

Lots of love,

S.

Warning: Feeling Explosive


You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain

 

There is something crushingly defeatist about existence. We go through a swooping arc- a parabola of soaring to the top and then falling gently (or hard) back to the ground once we’re done reaching the pinnacle. Of course the arc isn’t as simplistic as all that; there are tiny spirals along the way. And fractal waves of upward and downward motions with their own little troughs and crests but life as a whole is just one big swoop. And that makes this quote from Batman all the more profound and relevant.

You could die a hero.

But if you live on, you decay and you’re going to live to see yourself become the villain as certain as the sun swooping through the sky on a daily rotation.

I am done with fairy tales. I was done long ago with happy endings. There are none because a happy ending will reach its sad conclusion when you die or the people that you love die. If you’re unlucky you might get to see yourself reach that point as a penultimate forethought.

Backhanded and cruel, our life forces us to confront ageing everyday, whether we’re on the rising half or the falling half of what I’ll call the life wave. How absolutely pessimistic of me and yet all I am stating is the truth with a sense of detachment that has grown into me for now. But I’m in my early twenties. I wouldn’t know what to expect when I’m older. I wouldn’t know how to feel with the baggage of all ‘my’ truths, which I carry around. I wouldn’t know how to confront people with these thoughts. I probably wouldn’t, except for the penning down of words, which is something I want to do and just leave out there for those who care enough to find it and maybe take something out of it for themselves, because other people don’t think. They don’t see or they don’t want to see or they don’t want to care about the search for truth.

And I was just struck by the memory of staring into vacant space in a dark room, minutes before falling off to sleep. I could gently recall to mind a slow swaying which would rise into a spinning until my head was in a whirl, going over day and night and night and day and wondering what it meant. What all of it meant. I thought everyone felt that way at some point. I thought everyone had this crazy vision of spinning stars coupled with unanswerable and unattainable questions. The images keep coming back to me and gloating and flooding my mind. After all these years, I am finally getting somewhere but that somewhere is actually nowhere. There really is nowhere to be except an utter and exhausting state of perpetual movement. If thoughts have brought me this far, I don’t know where they will take me. I need exposure to as much knowledge as I can possibly gather because this everlasting search for knowledge seems to me the only (unachievable but very) necessary space to be in.

This image of outer space was the closest thing I could find to the images that used to whirl through my head as a child when I would lie in bed and wonder what the point of all our lives as humans on earth was. I had buried the memory of this freakish question deep inside me but it’s coming out now.

And so although I am feeling explosive right now, I need a breather. I need to back off and get some perspective before I plunge back into the everlasting flames of this never-ending quest for knowledge (what a strong metaphor for hell; maybe this is what religions believe hell is- the never ending need to get to answers which are impossible to find).

So here’s me pushing down the brake.

 

Open Letters Part Two


Dearest M.

Today seems like a fitting day to write to you because whenever I’m sitting with you and we’re having one of our crazy talks, it strikes me hard and fast that with you gone, I won’t have anyone to have these conversations with. Like I told you yesterday, ‘Why on earth do all my best friends have to be foreigners!’ is an epiphany I can’t get out of my head.

I don’t even remember the beginnings I need to go back to. But I do remember how I liked you from the very start, how it has always been fun having you around. And I had to choose one word to describe you recently- ‘Luminous’ was what stuck to my head and I do believe it’s true.

You’re the one I have thought-provoking conversations with. You’re the one who helped me discover one of the biggest revelations I’ve ever known- the lies of religion. You’re the one who understands when I talk about feminism and communism and communality and racism and all those other big things that keep happening around the world. And not just that, more often, you’re the one who tells me about big things that I then start to ponder about too. With you I can talk about the deepest things I know for hours on end because you never say, like most other people do, ‘Kitna deep sochti hai. Ooh philosophy.’ If we ask ourselves the question, ‘do all other people think this way?’ the answer comes out to be no. Only a measly percentage of the people surrounding us talk about things like this which is what makes it all the more precious.

But it’s not just the heavy conversations that make you so important to me. From talking about Ellen Degeneres to singing all the Hindi songs that you’re surprisingly so good with, from cracking wise-ass jokes and being sarcastic to talking dirty, from coming up with weird accents and recording them to conducting pretend sing-alongs ( ‘Just give me a reason, just a little bit’s enough’). I feel like we have talked about everything under the sun but there’s still a lot more left.

Perhaps some of the most amazing things we have come up with have been the crazy scenarios. B. Consp. – the conspiracy theory degree that we’ll be the founders of just because you and I both love our fill of mystery and intrigue, the ethnicity cleansing nightmare novel that we’re both too lazy to commit to, the dozens of tiny characters we role-play ourselves into and then laugh with the realization that we’re so funny and it’s sad that nobody is around to appreciate it.

But M., underneath all this funny, crazy, deep, dark and intense stuff that we do, I really admire you for being the girl who stands up for herself. A few years from now I might be living in a big city but you might just be rescuing people from some obscure corner of the world and that just makes me go ‘Wow’ every time I consider it. So yes, I have thought about the last goodbye, the last hug, the last words and it is too painful to contemplate upon. I don’t know what I will say to you guys when you’re leaving with no promises and no certainty of a next meeting. I don’t know who I’ll go to with the next crazy movie or book that makes my head spin around. But I do know that these four years wouldn’t have been the same without you around. I owe a lot of things to you, from the loss of religion to the streak of despair at humanity to the spark of wanting to do something about things in my own small way. You are and will continue to be a part of who I am.

Someday, we’ll go to a karaoke and sing a bunch of songs and sit in cute, ‘homely’ cafes and gorge ourselves silly and talk about life again.

Love,

S.

Contemplating


http://thegloryofgodismanfullyalive.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/why-i-study-medicine-motivation-meaning-and-exams/

I struggle every day to stay sane
Or the walls of this terribly broken world
Will close in on me
Burying me
Choking me
Leaving me underneath a pile of rubble sky-high

I struggle on the edge of what they call ‘normal’
Trying to walk on the thin line without tumbling over
I tell myself the same things over and over
I try to see beauty where there is misery
Happiness where the dark creeps through
Hope where there is a large expanse of nothingness

I cannot live the lies anymore
They ring in my ears
In the dead silence of the night
In the remorseful introspection
And in the middle of this naked truth
I stand unbidden. Contemplating.

Breaker of Chains: GOT Season 4 Episode 3


*Spoilers*

In the aftermath of the Purple Wedding (glee), King’s Landing is already picking up the pieces. Cersie mourns the loss of her favourite child but Lord Tywin is already one step ahead- planning the ascension of the new king, Joffrey’s younger brother Tommen by instructing him on the virtues of a wise king which, incidentally, revolve more or less around following the advice of your counselors. Cersie gave up on trying to get her father to stop insulting her dead son just a few feet away from his dead body and chose instead to appeal to Jamie, asking him to avenge their son upon Tyrion, on whose head she blames the whole business. Jamie however seems less inclined to blame his younger brother without proof or a trial and he reminds Cersie that Tyrion shares their blood.

And although they kiss for comfort, Cersie pulls back to grieve but Jamie exclaims, ‘You are a hateful woman. Why have the Gods made me love a hateful woman?’ and proceeds to rape his sister behind the alter where Joffrey lies dead, in a scene that makes you recoil at the incestuous horror of the whole thing.

Sansa, in the meantime, has been taken off the coast by Sir Dontos who accompanies her to Petyr Bealish whilst Tyrion, made aware of his upcoming trial, ponders helplessly upon losing his one potential ally in a way that makes him look guiltier- for although Sansa had the necessary motives to wish Joffrey dead, he does not consider her a likely candidate. Aside from that, the only other person Tyrion frees from blame for this particular assassination is Cersie, whose love for her children is renowned, making this a unique mystery for King’s Landing. Oberyn continues to be obnoxious but since he is to be one of the  three judges along with Tywin and Tyrell for the  trial of the king’s murder, he stands as the best hope for Tyrion. Meanwhile, Sansa’s escape makes her a wanted woman for the Lannisters.

At the wall the wildings continue their butchery and cannibalism and Castle Black prepares for the inevitable siege, which does not look hopeful so far. Given Jon Snow’s upcoming role, he still manages to give baffled expressions and do little in the way of preparing his fellow black cloak-bearers.

Davos is looking for newer means to fund his King since he does not lay the same amount of trust as Stannis does in the Lord of Light’s power to deliver. With Joffrey dead, Davos thinks their best bet is to borrow some gold from Braavos and trade that for an army, even though a bought army is not very honorable for Stannis.

Meanwhile Arya tries to appeal to the softer side of the Hound who still believes in dog eat dog (a valuable Westeros lesson anyway). Arya is cheeky and funny and very cute and lovable until you remember how she slashes through people with a sword and falls asleep every night muttering a list of victims she need to murder to avenge all the pain she’s borne. A lot of plots are going to start converging soon but that will have to wait for next season. Meanwhile Game of Thrones is still building up into a storm.

Daenarys has dug in her heels in preparation to conquer Meeren. Getting caught up in the slave cities continues to be her downfall when she should be sailing for Westeros. Even Tywin acknowledges her presence as a far-off threat for now. It will be long before that changes.

The pieces moved slowly today with little in the name of progress. After the assassination of an important character next week, these were necessary movements aimed at setting the scene for the next big storm. More next week with ‘Oathkeeper’, where the above stories will make headway (as per the promo). Until then.

Open Letters Part One


Dearest R.

I’ve heard that friendships erode and time frees us from many-a-pains and while I hope for this to always be true (because how else are we supposed to recuperate and revive ourselves in the cruelty of this world?), there are some things we wish to cherish forever. And while I know no words can fill voids of hearts, I also know that this is my one shot at making something lasting out of these 26 letters so that beyond our own memories and the photographs, something will remain for me to come back to when needed. They say as you grow older you go through life with your guard always up. And I have picked up this lesson, truly (partly thanks to  you, of course), although I despise it. But with you the guard is always down, my shield is lowered, I come as friend and never as foe. You can only be described in my head as that proverbial ray of everlasting sunshine that makes you feel warm and cozy on a cold wintry morning.

I know I tend to make things seem flowery and intense but beneath all of that is a whole treasure trove of pure closeness, madness, complaining (indeed even gossiping) that you and I have indulged in. I will always remember how we attempted to boil eggs in your kettle without adding salt and ended up with a kettle full of egg bits to clean (which you did, of course, while I sat and laughed until there were tears in my eyes). But then we learnt how to do it right and shared a dozen or so half-boiled eggs, sometimes eating them right out of the shells as we attempted to trudge through some last minute studying. Ever since then you were my shelter, my abode because I needed one and even when I knew no better, you were like a strengthening backbone, not the crushing hammer that others became. You were a shield and an armor all rolled into one. It may seem like an exaggeration but it wouldn’t be if you knew, like you probably do, that I owe a large chunk of my sanity to you. I would have crumbled to bits if you hadn’t stood by me every single time I needed you.

And we’ve had our lighter moments. It was in your company that I came up with some of the funniest things I do and you are one of the few people who have witnessed all those impressions, whether or not you liked them. From singing ‘Friday, Friday’ in the most irritating tone that I can summon to all the accents I have ever learnt and all those noises I love making for your benefit (or discomfort), memories I will cherish range from ‘Number Seven Seven- the song’ right down to our anthem

‘You think I’m pretty without any makeup on, you think I’m funny when I tell the punchline wrong, I know you get me so I let my walls come down’,

the song we chanted to and fro the bathroom with you limping on your broken knee and me slowing down just to keep you company. And of course there were those physiotherapy sessions when I held your hand through more pain than I could bear to watch but on the way back we stopped for ice-cream and laughed. I think that was when I felt closer to you than ever.

Countless starry nights on the swings will also be cherished. So will all the crazy scenarios we build up, us and M., when we’re together. But that is more a part of another letter than this one.

There was a time two years ago when I could not bear the thought of not having you around whenever I needed. Now I think I have managed to conquer those fears at least and learnt to slip into a sort of independence in which too, you had an important hand to play. You’ve been the one person who, I can safely assume, has never tried to squeeze any sort of personal benefits out of me. It makes my memories with you all the more cherishable and special.

You keep saying you’ll see me at my wedding next. I hope to goodness we don’t have to wait that long for a reunion. Walking back with you today, it struck me that we just might have to. The thought is not appealing, neither is the idea that any reunions we might have in the future will probably fail to recreate the magic that we share right now whether its in a group or solo. As I said when I began this letter, time works itself on us, clasps us in its grasp, changes us, builds us, breaks us. Who knows what we might become in a few years from now. I’m glad we live in the age of Facebook and Whatsapp and Skype because they are the next best thing. We both know that, of course. But next best just isn’t good enough. It will just have to do.

Lots of love

S.

Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 2: Weddings are Happy Occasions


*Spoiler alert*

There you have it. This episode was another one of those ‘hold your breath because something monumental is coming your way’ episodes. I don’t think I paid complete attention to anything other than the wedding celebrations at King’s Landing.

Bran has grown up and is getting more and more comfortable under the skins of other creatures, choosing to abandon his body in order to be free. He has also grown taller and bigger than ever before. These kids are going to go through their awkward teenage phase with this show. I was also horrified by the Theon-Greyjoy-slash-Reek scenes and Ramsay Snow is just a bastard in every sense of the word. Ramsay is set to capture Moat Caitlin; prove to his father that he has more uses beyond slashing private parts off people and reducing their dignity and self-worth into dust.  Meanwhile Stannis and his Red Witch continue to spread the love of the God of Light while his daughter tries to accept the faith-swapping as best as she could.

Jamie is learning how to spar with his left hand now. In a moment of fraternal outburst, he confesses to Tyrion how the whole world cannot find out that he cannot slay a pigeon with his left hand, let alone protect the king.

But all eyes on King’s Landing as Cersie ceded her acting Queen authority to Margaery; who takes up the stand with grace and her own brand of panache, making announcements on behalf of her sadistic beast of a new husband five seconds after the ceremony is over. Tyrion has to bear the brunt of King Jeoffrey’s jibes, of course, but he does so with a straight face after having sent away his whore-lover just hours before the ceremony, in order to save her from the cruel clutches of his father Lord Tywin.

The part I was waiting for on this episode was, of course, the climatic closing scene. With GOT, if you haven’t read the books, you can never know who is going to collapse when. The show has little empathy for its own characters and no regards whatsoever as to which episode is being used to bring about a wave of change. And so, the death everyone had been wishing upon a star for, was quite a welcome surprise for those who weren’t expected it. Joeffrey’s collapse and writhing in the arms of his crying mother and his subsequent death by sweet poison was a ‘Hurrah’ moment for all Stark lovers. Even as the Lannisters had  a sort of family huddle over the dying boy-king, Cersie was quick to raise her hand backwards at Tyrion, who through no fault of his own finds himself blamed for killing his king.

The death has opened up a dozen new doors for this season. The plot is going to thicken now. A lot of exciting changes are coming up, what with the scramble for a new king, the attempts of House Dorne and House Martell to bring out new equations with the Lannisters. Tyrion’s sacrifice was worth it though, just to see Jeoffrey die and Cersie cry. As for Tyrion, he is a big boy, bigger than the rest of them put together and he will find his way through. Sansa is off as well. Bye-bye King’s Landing!

 

 

Atheistic Objectivism and the World


To reconcile the teachings I have picked up in the past six years with the life I see around me is not an easy task.

It is not easy, for one thing, to confront the thousand ‘God’ references that I hear in a day, without cringing. How horrifying it is to me that most of the world believes in scraps of paper put together hastily, drawing conclusions about life and how to live it and about having a God, to the point that they will kill for it, fight for it, get offended for it, be granted special obligations for it and face no flak for it?

Even though I spent my teens thinking I could ‘talk’ to God- and not any of the mythological Gods from any of the holy textbooks that I know of, but to an omnipresent, almighty God who knows all and governs all, it scares me that such an idea should be harbored and drilled long and hard into most human beings. An omnipresent God who watches over everything, judges everything, knows everything, holds your fate in his hand and has the power to destroy you, can give away or give back anything and everything you own and yet loves you and does everything good for you? A God or Gods whose will you must follow by being kind and generous and selfless and giving?  A God whose heritage you must adore and adorn and glorify? None of this sounds tempting to me- it sounds scary and disgusting. It is as though, if there is a ‘God’, I must twist and contort the definition a million times around because I do not think any of the Gods described in any of the religions of the world can be benevolent and wonderful in the way they want us to believe. A God, to me, can only be a Master; a slave-driver, hedonistic, sadistic, envious and jealous.

It is regrettable for me to have reached these conclusions and yet I did, independently; not by former questioning but merely by a simple examination of facts. So simple, in fact, that it feels as if it was right there in front of my eyes, staring at me and I was too blind to see. Why, then, am I the one who will be prosecuted and asked to take my statements back, were they ever to reach an audience wide enough to want to condemn it? Why should I be an apologist? I already know that I am in a lot of trouble for being twenty-two and thinking this way. I am already a sinner and a condemner and a heretic in almost all the religions of the world. But more than that, I will be perceived as being unkind and insensitive and generally absurd for claiming the thing that stares everyone right in their face!

Why all the death and destruction over such utter nonsense? If we must live our lives by a code, the best way to formulate one would be through private assimilation. We do, after all, tend to do this anyway. I think I am a kind, loving and gentle person. I cry if I see hurt in the world, I treat lying and cheating and thievery as abominable (though not rigidly so) in my personal life and I try to strive for personal happiness without over-stepping into the boundaries of others, if I can help them. Those are good starting points on which one can build a successful and honest life without labeling oneself under any particular religion.

Think, then, of the natural posture one must adopt when one is supposed to ‘pray’. How fare more reverent is the human temple Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark offers in The Fountainhead? A monument where one walks in and feels uplifted, feels the magnificence of himself as opposed to that of a ruler at whose feet one must grovel for forgiveness. The only thing that is there in front of our eyes is the rest of the world which consists of other human beings all of whom are struggling, like us, to find meaning for seventy years before turning into stardust once again. Why then must we fight holy wars and create barriers; killing but not just killing, also hurting through words and actions, fellow human beings just because they were born to someone whose forefathers happened to be in closer proximity to a particular religion over another?

And the argument that my religion is peace-loving in its core, human beings have made it this way? It saddens me even more that this claim, with which I spent my entire liberal childhood, is not so true after all. All religious texts are interspersed with at least a sprinkling, if not more, of vengeance-seeking, weapon-yielding, mass-murdering Gods, not to mention all the atrocities faced by their women-folk. All Gods seem to have a sort of blood-thirst which requires great wars or genocides to be fulfilled.

I cannot climb on board the God express now, even as consolation or reconciliation with a loved one. Most humans are, of course, well-meaning in their love towards their own religion, non-violent in tolerance and just trying to lead good lives but more of them need to question the premise of God and stop looking down upon the fact that He is absolutely unnecessary and that the actual presence of such a creature gives us more reason to be scared than its absence because if a God is watching your every move and you are supposed to love him for eternity, you aren’t being given much choice about anything at all, which in turn goes right around in a circular argument to suggest that without the presence of choice and free will, how can this God claim to any of the good things that He says He is? If He exists, you are just a puppet and by the sheer force of logic, this becomes the truth.

I was never upset by these discoveries, of course. Over two years I built up quite a strong case in my head about which side of the coin I wanted to be on. I am quite certain of myself in this regard, at least. What still hurts is the fact that so many well-meaning people are walking about their daily lives believing ancient lies meant, more often than not, to make submissive and subservient followers out of them, a few thousand years ago.

How much more hurt and divisions and pain and destruction and death must we pointlessly face over something that is nothing? A puff of smoke is causing this!  A layer of nothingness is responsible for it. Who atones for all the people who died for nothing, except the fact that someone thought their interpretation of ‘nothing’ was better than anyone else’s? Whether you call it karma, misfortune, repayment, punishment or something far more creative and far less lucrative, the truth will remain that random murders have and occurred and will never stop unless each of us take it upon ourselves to examine the facts.

This famous quote from a Nazi concentration camp puts my entire case to rest for today:

My God why have you forsaken me?

To bend means to lie

If there is a god, he must ask me forgiveness

How to Make a Poem Out of (Almost) Anything


It’s National Poetry Month and to honor the occasion I want to share a little poetry wisdom on my blog.

I write a lot of poems. I scribbled the first words when I was seven or eight but I have a clear memory of the day I wrote my first ‘real’ poem. I was thirteen and it was for a talent competition. The poem was called My Blossoms and you can read it here.

It was in one of those aah moments that my fingers just typed up this first poem and I thought to myself at once, ‘How perfect’. And I never stopped after that. So I’ll share some poetry secrets with you because poetry is something people either love or hate. The thing about poetry is, it doesn’t always have to be rhyming words. Your poems don’t always have to be that perfect haiku or villanelle. You can just write freestyle. Poetry should be more about penning down what’s inside your heart in a way that uplifts you and lilts you than about being a perfect combination of words and letters. Though of course, if you are a stickler for words , you’re most welcome to make your poetry systematic and organized. Me, not so much.

So here’s my poetry secret 1:

Poetry is just soundless music

I have forever found music to be a source of inspiration for poetry and vice versa. If you’re listening to a song and you let the music wash all over you, you feel uplifted and rejuvenated. Music heals, sometimes mysteriously. It’s about how you can relate to a particular song maybe because you are going through or have been through something similar or else, just because the music and the words take you to the place you need to be in. Listen to the beats, pay attention to the words and let your heart and soul fly off to a land where you feel contended enough to write. Or saddened enough to write. Whatever floats your boat.

Here are a couple of songs, for example, that leave me in that trance-like subspace that I so desperately need for the best writing to some out of me:

 

Another useful trick of the trade for those times when you simply must write a poem and you can’t. Make a list of adjectives and nouns that you really like. Or else, just randomly pick up a magazine and open it at different pages, picking up the first words your eyes fall on (and skip the prepositions and conjunctions please). The trick is to collect a bunch of words and arrange them until a sensible pattern emerges. This was one of the first exercises I picked up on and it actually works.

Here’s one I found on a blog which is actually about this exercise. The blog is called A Bowl of Random Words.

And here is my poem:

The elm tree in the glade is my retreat
Fly away, you
You’re not welcome here
You will be called when I am gone
Dig the burrow then 
And you will find my traces

And here is another one:

And another poem:

The truth lay naked before my eyes
And I snapped like a twig in the heat of July
His fall from grace was terrible
A lifetime of love reduced to a trickle
I left the way I came
Turning invisible again

This exercise can be hard at first but it gets easier and you’ll be happy with what you’re writing soon enough. That is, after all, the ultimate aim.

Another useful tool for poetry is a classic visual aid: images of whatever it is you want to write about.

Use images to open up your mind

If you want to write about freedom, google ‘Freedom’ and surf through the images until you find one that sets the machinations of your brain running.

This, for example, is an image about freedom that I really like:

http://vi.sualize.us/_city_girl_pography_picture_4Nh1.html

And a poem that this image brings to my head:

I flew
Over the city walls
High above oblong skyscrapers and wilted dreams
Far from countless memories pulsing through the crowd
Unaware of danger, flirting with adventure
The pink skyline could not tear me down
I was on the cusp of freedom

Images can do wonders for poetry and you can stare at something until it stirs your insides; you get goosebumps and before long, poetry will start to flow.

And another one:

Read lots of good poetry

Wordsworth and Keats are not always the easiest but if you sift through the treasure trove of poetry that the world has to offer, I am betting you will find something you will love. You do not need to understand all of it. Even if some of it makes sense to you, consider yourself blessed because the aim of poetry is to move something within you and if it succeeds at that even slightly, the poet has done a good enough job. This poem I read recently touched me deeply. I am sharing it here verbatim:

Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

(courtesy: World War 1 on the BBC from As I Please).

I googled the phase Dulce et decorum est, Pro patria mori and it means ‘It is sweet and right to die for your country’, which sent a shiver running down my back and left me feeling haunted.

All I’m really trying to say is that no matter who you are, you’ll find at least one poem out there in the cosmos that will make you love the fact that it was ever written and if you keep digging you’ll find more and more until perhaps at some point, you’ll be capable of bringing out some of your own hidden emotions through one.

The next secret works in much the same way as the universe does when it makes you feel poignant and emotional. It is simply that

To go out in nature or travel through a strange land or see places you have never seen- places of historical significance or cultural heritage which you cannot quite wrap your head around, is in itself an experience so joyful and revealing that your soul will rejoice and want to then express itself in some way. That is when you pick up your pen and pour out all the sites you saw and all the things you felt, touched, heard, smelled into a poem.

This secret will work, I am sure of it. Because when you are out somewhere, perhaps in nature or taking a walk through a ruin which holds a story and echoes with the screams of people who died there or with the laughter of those who lived there, you will be able to embrace feelings you didn’t think you had. Poetry can flow out of anything- and I mean even the ugliest of things. It’s just about what you want to write, what you want to feel and what you want to give out.

And so here is my very last poem secret of the day. I’ll tell you this; I have never really thought of myself as a ‘poet’ with just that label. And I cannot. But the important thing, I think, is not to think of being excellent but to think of being truthful to yourself and your life. That’s when poems come.

Write as much as you can. Practice makes perfect, of course.

Not perfect; not really. Nothing can be perfect. But with time you’ll see how your thoughts don’t coagulate anymore. Even if you want to write a hundred and one poems on quite the similar theme, write them! Nobody has to see them all. Share only your best work but keep the rest for yourself. The secret is just to write whenever the urge arises and sometimes even when it does not. The rewards of poetry are enriching and exquisite. You’ll see 🙂

Hope you liked the post and a thank you to all fellow bloggers from whom I nicked tips and photos. I hope I have put all the right credits in all the right places but if I haven’t, please let me know!

Happy National Poetry Month.