I have needed you since before I knew you. It is strange to me how you are beginning to grow up and with every passing day you seem more mature to me. Even the acts you put up for our benefit reflect a hidden power which I cannot define but I feel.
I’ve been meaning to write this for you for a while now. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been here since the beginning and that I mean to be there until the end, whatever that is. I’ve wanted you to know that when you’re old enough, you will appreciate things you can’t right now and then you’ll know that you have always meant the world to me.
Talking to you has taken a different meaning too. I see glimpses of the strong, brave and protective person that you’re going to grow up to be. I need to protect you right now but I know these tables will slowly turn. I’ll always be the older one and I mean to be there for you to run to whenever you need anything. But I know that a time will come in our lives when I’ll be proudly standing around, watching you graduate, watching you add to your list of achievements. Your competitive spirit enthralls me. I can’t wait for you to have conversations about life with me.
The idea of you growing up makes me uncomfortable too. I see you as the kind of guy who will attract a lot of female attention. I’d like to say girls will swoon over you and although this may just be me being very partial, I can imagine you as that guy. Admittedly, the idea makes me feel strange. But I hope you will be the kind of guy who will understand how to appreciate the women in your life. I hope having me and your mother around will teach you the kind of deep-seated respect and love that I always long for. I hope you will be an Indian man but of the most perfect kind there ever can be.
I know you will be a lot more than that. I feel so proud of you every year for being a prefect. For taking part in all the debates and elocution and quizzes there ever are and for doing so well in them. I feel so proud when I hear about how good your football is getting. You imagine yourself being a Messi and demonstrate your kicks in the air. And then you go to sports camp and are really excited about training to be a good footballer.
I know this seems as though I am expecting too much from you. I know you can be all the things I dream of and a lot more. I really love you and every single day of my life I worry about you. I feel responsible for you, protective towards you. I feel as though nothing I do will ever be enough. You know I can never say no to you for anything you ask of me. I am beginning to see how much you love me and I find it so strange that you do. I constantly worry you will drift apart from me and I cannot imagine that happening. But every day I feel you draw closer to me. As you grow, you make me a part of your life. That is more than I can hope for from you. From life. I know I’m going to try my hardest to retain this bond forever and the realization that you are too, surprises me.
You are the one person in my life for whom I know I can give up anything at all without a second’s hesitation. How are you going to take this when you’re old enough to recognize it? They say siblings grow apart when they grow up. I wouldn’t let it. Yet we are young and don’t know better. I hope you don’t either. i have so much faith in you. I think of you as my little hero. As the brightest, forever-shining part of my life.
How amazing it is to have a younger brother. You can fight with him, be a kid with him, spoil him rotten. He'll be exasperated by your attempts to treat him as a child while he is trying to be an adult. In his spare time he will try his hardest to wreck your attempts at having a quiet or hard-earned moment of silence or undisturbed work. He'll come to you when he needs something. But he will be a friend and a bodyguard and the sibling you've always dreamt of. He'll grow bigger and stronger than you and he'll be a grown-up but still a kid for you. But most of all he will always be a part of your life, from childhood until the very end.
Only that I wish I could make it stronger still.
I felt empowered.
I felt a surge of determination and energy.
I felt a rush of absolute reverence for water.
I felt happy.
I wish I could remove some things but only because I don’t want to keep memories without a promise of future repetition. Because I know some things I am going to miss a great deal will probably be gone forever. Since this is life and I accept it.
“The work of a thousand years is nothing but rubble”
This gargantuan book contains the comprehensive history of everything that happened in Germany since the rise of Hitler and all through the Second World War. It traces Hitler’s childhood, his earliest ideologies, influences and struggle, parochial though they often were, his subsequent rise to power, his ambitious plan to take over the continent and eliminate the superiority of Britain and France (in which he did succeed, despite his eventual failure) and in the same stroke establish Germany as the political and economic champion of the world, his recalcitrant military methodologies, his cruelly imposed New Order (which included the infamous Final Solution) the thwarted attempts of those who tried to stop him, his subjugation and the ultimate farce that resulted in his demise, along with that of his craftily-created empire that extended from the English Channel in the West and went almost as far as Moscow in the East, covering France, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Greece and even most of Italy (as Mussolini collapsed towards the end), among others.
A thousand and one thoughts ran through my mind as I slowly consumed this large and very thrilling narrative of world events from the early twentieth century. William L, Shirer, an American journalist and war correspondent who had access to the large database of surviving Third Reich documents and was a witness at the Nuremberg trials which finally revealed, in totality, the complete extent of Nazi manipulation and atrocities and paid part of the retribution (although it can never be enough) that was required to restore the lost dignity of the European savagery it begot, is the author of this massive book. I will never deny how invaluable this book was for me to understand the Third Reich and Hitler better than i ever had before. But some of Mr. Shirer’s shortcomings percolated through the pages of this book in a glaring fashion.
First of all, in the foreword Mr. Shirer promises to be uncompromisingly objective as he proceeds to lay down the facts, but he fails to do so. He is not objective about Germany but highly prejudiced against it. He tries, of course, to keep the narration unbiased and succeeds in places but the overall effect is that the book is a very negative commentary on German people in general and Nazis in particular. The Nazi war crimes warrant for most of this, no doubt, but a historian should be a little less judgemental. Although there is a great deal of criticism for the Chamberlain-led British government, there is almost none for Churchill or Roosevelt. USA’s entry into the war is explained unsatisfactorily, so is the Japan-Germany alliance. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are skipped entirely. No mention of it can be found in the book at all, which is shocking. Mussolini’s fatal fall from grace is hurriedly explained towards the very end. And most of all, the war crimes committed against homosexuals is missing altogether because apparently Mr. Shirer considers homosexuality a perversion (there are allusions to this in the text although he doesn’t exactly say is forthright) and although all other Nazi victims are given due respect, the homosexuals are skipped out of existence.
But this book was nonetheless one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read and a treasure-trove of knowledge. It strengthened my hatred towards Hitler and everything he stood for but I wish it had given me a better insight into some of the welcomed reforms he brought for his countrymen in the ’30s (the ones that made Germans thankful for their Fuehrer and blinded so many to the gigantic errors of his ways).
The Early Years
The earliest influencing years of Hitler’s life were spent in Vienna before the first world war where, orphaned and destitute, he tried to make an artist out of himself. He saw himself as a connoisseur of art and culture, an opinion he stuck to till the very end. It was in Vienna that he first inculcated his Jew-hatred, his intense racism, his abhorrence for democracy, his extreme belief in the superiority of the German Aryans and the sub-humanism of all Jews, gypsies, Slavs and so forth and most importantly, his observations about the importance of powerful propaganda, something he was to later use as one of the most influential weapons at his disposal.
It was after the Great War where he fought as a soldier on the front lines, that he joined the National Socialist party, which was not founded by him, as many would think. At that point the Weimar Constitution had been created to rule over Germany. The disgraceful loss of war and some of the unfair impositions placed upon her had reduced Germany to a country of warring factions where the government was a fluke, the economy wrecked and surviving only on American loans. In this scenario, Hitler, having just discovered his powers of oratory, flung the National Socialist party into action. The Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 was his first comedic attempt at seizing power. Although repelled within a few hours and despicably laughable in its unfolding, it was this event that taught Hitler a very important lesson.
He was sent to jail for it, where contemplation forced him to conclude that he would rise to power on the wings of popularity, by winning over the German populace. It was also here that he penned Mein Kamph, the book that was later to be a bestseller and in which Hitler talks about his pseudo-evolutionary philosophies and his political ambitions.
In the 1930s then, when the great depression led to the withdrawal of American cash, Hitler made the most of it in a series of elections that the unstable democracy fell into, until in early 1933 he was named the Chancellor and by March he had dissolved all political parties and set out on his mission of totalitarian subjugation. The irony here is that although not given a complete majority, it was by a democratic process and popular demand indeed that Hitler became the dictator of Germany.
Laying Down the Foundation and Hitler’s Conquests
Luck shone down upon the Fuehrer almost as much as his personality traits shone through the dimming lights of Germany’s disgrace. Within a few years, Hitler had created a Germany which was highly self-sufficient. He put an end to trade unions. From now onwards, fixed wages will be decided. He dissolved all political parties except his own as well as all institutions that threatened to take him down a peg or two. He dealt with the army, which was the only one institute with the power to bring him down and from which, later, came some of the only few feeble attempts at overthrowing him from within, first by appeasing them and later by expelling any general who even slightly opposed any of his policies. He dealt with his opponents harshly. Gregon Strasser was one of the more popular Nazis who arguably held the loyalty of more people than Hitler himself did. Hitler ultimately had him executed by the Gestapo. Hitler’s Gestapo or the S.S., under the charge of his faithful Himmler became a symbol of terror in Germany first and later in her conquered territories. The very word sends a shiver down my spine.
It was here that Hitler first began to play a very powerful game on the world scene. Mastering the art of propaganda with the help of his loyal Propaganda Minister Goebbels, and simultaneously using his efficient oratory to its greatest extent, Hitler first created a network of media controlled entirely by the Nazis. All voices of dissension were suppressed, all rival newspapers shut down. Even radio was banned although some continued to personally defy this order to keep up with news from abroad.
Hitler set off slowly to conquer what had been lost. He tentatively pushed France’s buttons to see just how far he could go by breaching the Versailles treaty. He captured Rhineland, appeased the Britain and French forces. Then he took over Austria and later Czechoslovakia whilst the Anglo-French powers stood aside and let him with hardly any protest. It is so ironical, the way Chamberlain kept giving in to Hitler. Hitler wanted to dominate the continent but he knew he could not fight the Anglo-French army on the west and Russia on the east at the same time. What cost the continent dearly later on, could have easily been prevented at the earliest if Britain and France hadn’t kept isolating Russia, despite the latter’s many attempts at reaching out towards the two powers. But Russia was continuously insulted by a Bolshevik-fearing Europe. It was mostly because of this and also because he was keen on playing his own game that Stalin signed pacts with Germany.This Soviet-German pact provided Germany with a lot of necessary trade and pushed the Russian entry into the war back to 1941.
It was Poland that first tried to oppose the German dictator and put up a fight. France had to then honor its pact with Poland and was thus pulled into the war. With the east captured and Russia kept at bay with peace treaties, Hitler turned west and conquered France but stopped there because by then the Churchill government was in power and refusing to capitulate. Hitler did not know how to invade the island which was the only remaining obstacle in his conquest of Europe. And there he made his fatal blunder, despite the warnings of his generals.
Hitler had always meant to attack Russia. It had only been a question of when. With Britain still alive and kicking albeit feebly, Hitler turned East and launched an offensive on the Communist state, without stopping to contemplate how this could contribute towards the two-front war which was his nightmare. Taken by surprise though the Russian Red Army was, it quickly dug its heels and set to work. When the bitter Russian winter came, the snow and sleet became an advantage to the vast cavalcades of Russian forces. Whilst Hitler forced his generals to stand their ground and never retreat no matter what, the Russians took thousands of prisoners of war and began the slow drive backwards, sending Germany off its conquered lands slowly but surely.
And then at Japan’s instigation, USA finally entered the war, reinforcing the battered English divisions with supplies of their own. The dreaded two-front war was the ultimate collapsing factor in the Third Reich’s history.
The July 20 1944 Conspiracy
Perhaps one of the most thrilling stories from World War Two is the sad and failed attempt of a group of German generals to thwart Hitler. There were many failed attempts at first to overcome and later to assassinate Hitler but by being unpredictable the German warlord kept the upper-hand until the 20th of July, 1944. By then Germany was most definitely losing and many German factions were eager to jump the sinking ship. Some wanted Hitler’s end to be from within the country. Led by General Beck, the conspirators were however, more taken in by Colonel Stauffenberg, the bravest opposer to Hitler that I have ever read about. This one-eyed, one-handed charismatic thirty-six year old took it upon himself to plant the bomb in Hitler’s presence.
Luck was against the conspirators however. Although there were many things they should have done which they didn’t, Hitler was not killed off by this bomb due to one simple reason. One of his Generals shifted the case containing the bomb to the opposite side of a supporting pillar which shielded Hitler from the direct impact of the explosion. What a stroke of unprecedented luck!
The consequences for the conspirators were horrible. They were all eliminated for being traitors. Many were given farcical trials where they were humiliated and later slowly hanged. Hitler wanted an example set and he managed to set it. It was quite painful and hurting to read about.
The Grotesque Ending
Like everything else about it, the end of the Third Reich was grotesque too. One of the last orders Hitler gave his men were to destroy all industries, farms and so forth in Germany. His absolutely contorted love for his Fatherland was such that he did not want to leave anything for the German people to rise back from after he was gone. He meant to destroy everything that could ever be used to reconstruct Germany. He could not envisage a Germany without National Socialism, he could not envisage the disgrace of the first world war repeated under his watch. It is just as well that many of his generals did not obey this last order, although some did. Thankfully too, towards the end the people in the concentration camps were left to more or less fend for themselves. As the armies advanced from both sides, most Germans fled before the Communist outfit and chose, instead to surrender to the American-English advancements from the other side. Until the very end, almost, Hitler kept up the hope that the fronts of his enemies would collapse because Britain and USA would never let Europe be run over by the Bolsheviks. He chose to ignore the fact that it was he who had imposed the war upon the continent, it was he who had deftly signed treaties and broken almost all of them, except the ones he kept to Mussolini, with whom he shared a somewhat special bond (he fantastically sent a covert operation to rescue the Fascist leader and later set him up as a Nazi puppet when the latter was too broken to rule by himself).
Towards the end Hitler was physically and mentally unfit. He became weak, developed some sort of neuralgia in his arms (reported twitching by many survivors shows how complete his breakdown was). He became highly suspicious of his closest aides, including the staunchly supportive but highly opportunistic Goering, and delusional about winning the war even when Russian forces were fighting mere feet away from his Berlin Chancellery.
But he was determined to go down with Berlin. He had little in the way of personal possessions and he hadn’t even considered taking as a wife the woman who loved him with unequaled (if foolish) devotion- Eva Braun. With death knocking on the front door however, he finally granted her her wish and married her in a macabre ceremony attended by the few who stayed with him until the end. When news of Mussolini’s desecrated body reached him, he became more determined than ever to not let himself and his wife fall into the hands of the Russians or the Jews. He killed himself with a shot down his throat. His bride of a day and a half swallowed a vial of poison and shared his fate. Their bodies were later burned down. Goebbels and his wife, loyal until death, committed suicide as well, taking with them the lives of their six young children.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich had little new to offer me with regards to the atoricities inflicted on its victims. Everything it said was confined to a single chapter and I had read about in other places. There were no unpleasant nightmares there, at least. When it must have come out, however, a lot of that material must have been new and shocking and saddening to the world I believe. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about the most important lessons one should draw from history but I would also suggest supplementing it with a little diverse literature to prevent certain antagonistic emotions from creeping into your mind through the influential narrative of the author.
It’s rant day! Today was supposed to be about something else but became something entirely different instead. I found myself window-shopping with a friend. It made me happy but it also made me nostalgic. It was stranger still because I saw a couple of people I hadn’t seen in years; mere acquaintances whose worlds never collided with mine except for a brief spell four years ago and yet here they were, just as alive as I am. I feel as if everyone is busy trying to clamber onto fast-moving trains and I’m just standing at the station watching them leave. They’re pulling off so fast, they often don’t have time to turn and wave. The artist inside me longs to create something so powerful that everyone will stop for a few seconds and just appreciate something as simple as a half-forgotten old song. Is it really so hard? Must everyone rush headlong into one another in their haphazard hurry to get away from one another?
The truth is I’m going to miss some of the things I did in the recent months with some of the closest friends I’ve made in life so far. I’m not saying things shouldn’t change or even that I demand they stay constant (or even that I think the change is unfair or unfounded). It’s not, it’s none of that. This is just me wallowing in a little bit of nostalgia for times begone because I can’t trivialize some experiences despite knowing how transient they really are in the bigger frame of things. What a messy picture I paint inside my own head, trying to balance these emotions with a rationality I impose, I desire, I need!
I am also thinking about all those times I’ve not known what I want to do. The answers are right in front of me, they always are and will be. But there is no discipline in this chaos. I don’t feel like I want to find the sort of discipline that life demands. It seems like a sacrifice too big to make, a chunk of life too precious to give up without a fight. How inept I am at the things that need to be done and how powerful in the face of abstraction that just floats about in the air in front of my eyes, almost taunting me into a deluding serenity that can break me apart if I give myself in to it completely!
And why then, do I continue with the same things? Why, when I know how evil the world is? When I have seen it with my own eyes, felt it inside myself, experienced it in the vividest manners possible? Why then can I not give up on this straightforward manner of confronting beauty and honesty with my own brand of these same things? It’s the weirdest thing that putting this all out here feels so wonderful in a way. What a strangely suicidal operation I embark upon with such enthusiasm. Something like this shouldn’t come out into the world even for my worst enemy, even posthumously.
I am not trying to aggrandize life events, only falling into dangerous reminiscing and letting some dark realizations wash over me.
I am thankful, so very thankful for the things that have brought me where I am today. I feel sad but strangely hopeful. I know who I am now. I may still not know what I am doing but I know which roads to take, which ones are best for me. I may not always do what is right but I tell myself every day that I can.
I feel bittersweet- a little lonely, a lot liberated. Somewhat scared and somewhat excited. Nervous but looking forward to finding my purpose. I can smell it now. It’s getting close.
Until next time! 🙂
Enjoyed my ranting? Can’t wait to hear more of this blah-blah? Or just looking for something rant-y to inspire you with your own free writing? Read more rants from the past:
Some people think it’s all a dream
Southern lights and fairy whispers
Some people say they don’t understand why
You grope around in darkness and crib about light
Some people think that songs and magic
Are wounded beasts, just preying on your soul
Some people will have you cut to the bone
And piled in a heap sky-high
Some people think that smoke and dust
Are beautifully enigmatic and mysteries untorn
Some people think that lying inebriated
You count a dozen stars and catch none
Some people think that love and lust
Are torn pages from the same little black book
Some people shine like diamonds on a crisp moonlit night
Paint the sky a crystal hue but are too afraid to cry
Some people live in fear of pain
Not knowing it’s inside them
Some people sing in prosaic verses
Falling shattered before they can see the evanescent flames dancing
Some people hurt to put a knife down someone’s back
And turn to soothe the scars with salt
Some people don’t understand why the world
Can continue on without them too
Some people touch with hands painted red
Too cowardly to feel the naked heat
Some people hide behind curtains big and bright
And question everything they have
Some people live in shades of grey
And live and die beneath the city lights
Some people, blinded; never see a single shining star
And then question you about your fight
The meaning of the breaking waves
In river banks laden with hard soil
Piled miles high after years and years of toil
Came to me in a sudden symphony more powerful
Than the admonishments of a mid-summer storm
And I turned to face the torrent
Not a never-ending stream of painful connotations
Not a stock of dark and meaningless alleys down which
I unwittingly roamed for hours, not knowing I was lost
Seeking the kind of solace that could only exist within me
But a sinful jolt of longing
A bittersweet answer lying wrapped within arm’s length
The sweet, sad song of a dying child-
The knowledge that this dirge did not indicate a profound sadness
But a new-found meaning in something as mundane as a cup of coffee
A babe’s laugh, a streak of sunlight
Even a joyless day peppered with salty tears and lustful full-stops
And through such momentous hurdles too
I can continue to exist unbroken.
Randomly sketched all the things I was day-dreaming about today. Not something I regularly do and hence it features on today’s Daily Post:
Rare Medium: Describe a typical day in your life — but do it in a form or in a medium you’ve rarely — if ever – used before. If you’re a photoblogger, write a poem. If you’re a poet, write an open letter. If you’re a travel blogger, write a rant. (These are all examples — choose whatever form you feel like trying out!)
He was careful to weigh the options before him- like a sentry who would be fired for one undue mistake, he was always on guard for the first sign of trouble. He had nightmares of machinated men leading cavalcades of monstrous armies across swathes of arid land whilst he slept on, the vaults unguarded, his possessions a gaping hole for the unstoppable forces of the enemies. He thought it could happen at any moment; while he slept with one hand on the gun, jerking awake and falling back into an uneasy doze, he made certain that the tiniest leap of a summer frog across the landing would register in his ears like a faithfully alert dog.
He was dreaming of armored men holding large swords and cutting through human flesh like a butter knife through its targeted slab. His eyes and chest hurt from the scratchy stretch of space between consciousness and unconsciousness on which he broodingly stood.
He startled and sat up straight, one hand on his rifle, eyes open for the first hint of trouble which would spring him into action, his other hand steady inches before the one-touch trigger which would raise the alarm.
Instead he was facing a woman. The prettiest woman he had ever seen. With ringlets of dark hair falling across her forehead and angled eyes the color of chestnuts lighting up a beautifully bronzed skin. In a moment, he forgot about the monsters and the dark creatures of the night and focused instead on her violet blouse with gold chains hung over firm breasts. He appreciatively admired her slim figure and his fingers relaxed around his weapon.
‘Excuse me?’ the woman said again, not angrily like most women would be but with a slightly quizzical expression that rounded up her delicate features, her mouth pouted into a round ‘O’.
‘May I help you madame?’, he finally replied in his glibbest voice, sending his hair flying backwards with a single flick of the neck.
‘Yes, I was wondering if you could guide me to a Mr.-Mr-‘
She held up a slip of paper, muttering words he couldn’t distinguish but the agonized urgency with which her hand pointed towards the paper in her hand moved him in a second and he reluctantly turned away from her to examine the paper.
‘Mr. Quastershquatsch’. He read out for her. He got that a lot. It was the weirdest name he had ever heard to.
‘Yeah, he’s up on the fifth.’
‘Well, that is so kind of you. I’m grateful.’
She flashed him a beautiful smile, revealing a set of glowing teeth and reached out to sign the visitor’s book before she turned away towards the glass doors.
He watched her retreating back with a smile of his own and settled back into the chair, the demons of his nightmares replaced by the beautiful woman he had just seen, pushing back his curls with his hands, he found her tender lips turned up and ready.
In a flash of lightning, he was awakened by the sounding of alarms.
The beautiful woman was at his desk again, signing herself off.
‘Looks like there is a spell of trouble brewing inside.’ She told him helpfully before letting herself out.
He ran up the stairs, confronted the gaping hole and looked around in despair for a signal. There were no large armies, no guns or cavalry men. Just a woman, three blocks away, turning up the collars of a dark coat in an alley which was carefully hidden from the nearest security camera, her breasts enlarged under the extra padding of weights they weren’t supposed to drag.
Don’t you question the tireless passion with which
I attempt to create this strange new world
In mirror images which reflect internally
Until reality and illusion merges into one
Do not strive to tell me
No this is not worth it
Living and dying
Don’t try to convince me how useless it all is
I attempt to collect emotions and thoughts
In a large web where they lie tangled
Forming untouched relationships
Do not make me give up
On the plea of mercy
For my soul
I need this
Don’t try to beat this irredeemable hope out of me
I do not want this crazy world to crush me so
By putting up large, unmarked stone walls
Forming a colossal cage that feels like home
Do not try to tie me up
I will turn liquid
And gently flow
It’s just me
How poetic it is- to have a favorite mistake! I can think of many- perhaps the fact that my poems flow out of a deep, dark place. The fact that I am this way is in part in my genetic makeup and for the rest, cultivated through a set of agonizing experiences. Either way, the world’s cruelty feels like a life-long companion which gives rise to all these helpless emotions at pain, suffering, longing and just pure transience. I think that explains the above poem.
Music of the moment:
How wonderfully soothing it is to be serenaded by this song. 🙂
George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).
Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) is an NGO that undertakes development initiatives to impact positively the lives of the poor, deprived and marginalized sections of the society through a people-centred approach focusing on their participation, awareness and empowerment for sustainable development.