I look at the big, big world
From my tiny little window
Dream of following the stars
To some place where I
Wouldn’t have to hide
I am all quiet today, kid
Thinking of everything you
Have meant to me in
These last few years and how
Impossible it seems that I
Might have to give it all up
It is not even a question of right and wrong
You see I have lost all grip of reality
In the throws of this enormous pain
All I see is your hand holding mine
Calling me out so gently
So I look at the big, big world
And I don’t see the pinpricks of light guiding me
All I can think of is how wonderful
It can seem when you are with me
If I must struggle, why does it
Have to be alone. So far away.
I am pensive and lost, kid
No answers come whispering to me
I cannot live with you like this
And I cannot imagine what my life would be
If I were to set you free
I look at the big, big world
And it completely intimidates me
Washed pale underneath all my fears
I will dream of you forever, kiddo
But I don’t know if you can save me
Never wanted this, never wanna see you hurt.
Every little bump in the road I tried to swerve.
People are people, and sometimes it doesn’t work out,
Nothing we say is gonna save us from the fall out
When I went through some of the toughest times of my life, I was a believer of God. I don’t know how much difference that made to anything that happened but there was a moment when I went alone to the nearest temple and prayed. I felt uplifted, like I was on a parallel plane. Everything took on a different light: I was right where I had been but I could believe something, somewhere would make everything all right. Nearly three years have passed since then and throughout my transformation, I have kept asking myself one question: what would happen when the next crisis hits me? I have realized one thing so far: most of my crises are more or less in my head. If I can conquer my thoughts, my emotions, my need to not hurt other people (who made me Queen of the World, anyway?), my constant struggle with putting myself FIRST, I wouldn’t have any crises. I won’t be in any mess, ever. But the price to pay is very high for me: loss of my ‘humanism’. I cannot be selective in showering my emotions. The trade-off is normally all or nothing. I am either capable of shutting up my system (at a huge loss of personal energy) or of feeling so much that I cannot get out of bed, let alone talk to other people or do any of the normal things that need to be done. The worst thing is that this is all in my head. I am stunted by my experiences, narrowed by my fears, defined by the things and people I have chosen to value right here in this life. So what happens the next time I feel trapped? What or who do I turn to? Here is an exercise in trying to find out that very answer.
There is only one struggle at the heart of it all
My personal struggle is that what I want and what the world expects are in an almost-constant clash. The worst thing is that I cannot predict with any sensible scale of measure, what it actually is that I want. I have accepted that human beings are fickle, there is no way for any of us to predict with any certainty where we are headed, let alone have any control over anything but our response to what hits us, cuts us, beats us. Perhaps the one answer is to have no expectations, to want nothing out of life, to maintain a complacency with everything we have. Some people can live in a small town forever and not want anything else at all. Some people can be content with a house and a family and never think why anything should be missing.
But me? I embrace my one life with in contradictory terms: I want everything and I can lost nothing. Devastation is perhaps inevitable when I don’t know what that everything is that I want. Some would say that it is the transcendence of God’s love and power pulling me towards itself, that my feeling of incompletion is the absence of God from my life, or the presence of the desire to be in touch with all the answers of the world. A friend and I spent hours one day exploring the psyche of Buddha’s enlightenment. For a few seconds that day, we were so completely in sync beyond the walls of the room in which we sat, we felt we had never been closer to understanding Buddha. It seemed clear to us in those few powerful seconds what ‘enlightenment’ really was. The catch? We were both atheists already.
As a disbeliever, I do not think anyone is beckoning to me from beyond. Hell, I am finding it harder to accept if there even is a beyond to be in after we die. I do not know, of course. I don’t have the answers to ‘ghosts’ that people see or my own experience of waking up alone in the middle of a night once: the night when my grandmother died miles away from me in New Delhi almost six years ago, with my name on the lips of something that wasn’t there.
I sound like a confused atheist but I think that is the best way to be. I need to be a confused atheist or I would be a foolish atheist. I do not think that the limited reach of my senses and my tiny nerve cell connections are capable of ever reaching the ultimate answer. Once I thought the final answer would come to me, perhaps on the moment of my death, if not earlier. Now I do not think there is a final answer to be reached.
Just a blob of random organic matter coming together and arranging itself into more and more complex creatures and then turning around and wondering why. The universe, if it is a conscience, has a very weird sense of humour. But how can I deny how funny it is?
Believing how rudderless life really is, I still desire things, experiences, people, a weird sense of belonging. Perhaps one of the biggest gaps that need filling is the desire to have people I can spend hours talking about these things with. Another one is the desire to read everything that I can ever manage to read. Strange desires and strange expectations. Over the course of these three years, I have found myself a handful of people I can talk this way with, without feeling like an alien.
How can an atheist suffer from a case of humanitarianism?
How indeed. I don’t think I need a guidebook to teach me my morals. This isn’t a debate I am raging because I know people do good or bad despite their personal beliefs in the Guy in the Clouds (or in an idol or in the wings of a butterfly or in their mother or in their lover or in themselves or anywhere or nowhere at all). What they do, how they perceive good and bad and how they deal with it on a day-to-day basis is dependent on a variety of circumstances: how they grew up, what they were taught, what they observed, what they were exposed to, what their genetic makeup is and how all of this comes together to make them a unique individual.
I have recently made a wonderful friend, Muslim by birth, she is a disbeliever of God and a nonconformist but talking to her is a liberation. Because for the first time in a long time, I am beginning to understand how I can balance the struggle and my love of peace.
Today she told me to go and have an adventure all by myself, an experience that would enrich me, free me of my thousand-and-one chains for a little while, put me in touch with my own slowly beating heart, my insides, my very core. I am ashamed to admit that I did not have the guts to follow her wonderful advice. I am hopeful though, that someday I will. Someday soon, I’ll make a breakthrough in my own head.
But there is a balance. There is an answer. There is something that can be done, even without God.
Yesterday night I found myself hoping there was a God to talk to. I started a dialogue in my head, cut it after one sentence. Half an hour later I unconsciously started it again and stopped the moment I realized how stupid it all was. Today I spent so much time with myself that I am beginning to see how something beautiful can spring out of my despair and desperation as an atheist.
It is all about me, whether I want to believe it or not.
I have been the monster and the hero of my own story. It is funny that I don’t always know when I am being which. I will just have to hope for the best in that regard because I wouldn’t know until I am way past that moment of truth. That being said, I can always find an answer to my own happiness. On a small, immediate scale there are a dozen things to be happy about right this moment. It is the darkly gathered cloud of my own personal struggle that is preventing me from seeing it. I cannot expect the clouds to blow away with one single breath but I can still see through the haze. I can see what I want to reach out to but more importantly I can see what I can already touch.
I wish I knew how to hurt other people. Out of that hurt something good does emerge. I have the strength to live with my own hurt but not enough to inflict it and live with that. While I struggle to find an answer to this very pressing and urgent problem, I still need something to hold on to. The reason this post is coming out of me is because I needed to sort through my own issues and get the clarity that will help me know what I want. I don’t know how successful it has been. But the purpose was to find ways to hope without God and I think I have managed to do that.
If you want to hope without God just look at the things you care about, the ones you want to grasp. Ask if you would rather see the change in this life or a next life which may or may not be there. If you want to hope without God, take care of your own body: both mentally and physically. Don’t punish yourself ever. No matter what. Steer clear of people who want to pile guilt, hate and anger onto you. Don’t let your frail shoulders carry the pain of the entire world. Don’t be Atlas. Be with people who are positive, even when you aren’t on the same page as they were. Get rid of the toxicity that is being fed into you. Recognize it when you see it.
I don’t know how I am going to achieve thes objectives. Sometimes things are just too ambiguous to have straight answers. I know life is a complex struggle. I don’t want to make the mistake of over-simplifying that complexity. But somehow, finding a path through is possible as long as my heart is beating and that last ounce of blood still flows through my veins.
Note: I need to clarify that I did not become a disbeliever out of personal pain/loss/sadness/unhappiness. I did not become a disbeliever out of hate or anger or hurt but out of a careful examination of the beliefs I held. I felt this needed to be stated.
I am screaming alone, all by myself in the dark. Wondering what the hell am I doing back in this place which I thought I had left forever long ago. As it turns out, some places cannot be left. Some people ask me why I am so dark. So blue. They wonder how someone so drab and dull can ever do anything exciting. But I can. I am hovering inches above reality. My feet touch solid ground sometimes but I’m not even sure whether that surface is real or just another hallucination.
So the reason why I am drab is because it is countered by something on the inside. Something so exquisitely sensitive, it will die in the light. I only have two states of being: I will either feel everything or I will feel nothing.
I have been called every name in the book. I have felt the kind of emotions that made me want to go and live in a cave until I decided to collide with them headlong.
What am I now?
I don’t know. But I cannot run from myself anymore. I have been dumped at the very golden gates that I was afraid to open.
And on the other side? I have no clue what will be there. But then I try to think of the time before now. Did I have any clue, anyway? No. I was always just walking like a zombie through life. It is impossible to be anyone else.
And so I was laughing when I should have been crying and in a parallel reality when I should have been on the floor. I am scarred, I realized, more than I knew before. Once I was sure of that, once I had accepted that, the rest was easy.
After that there was no need to run and hide anymore. I could accept myself. Maybe even forgive myself. I wonder why people seem so surprised at my reactions to things. But they don’t know that I don’t feel the things that I should feel. I feel the things I shouldn’t feel, instead.
There is a reason they say, that old people are set in their ways. They have been that way for so long. What do I want to be when I am old? I guess I get to deal myself one card. I think I already dealt it long back and it changed the course of everything. Whatever has been happening since has been a shout in the void.
Which brings me back to the fact that I am alone in the dark, with nothing and nobody. I am clueless in so many ways. I am fearless in so many others. At the crux of the matter is the damning realization that nobody cares. The day I reach the Zen-like state of no expectations? That shall be the day I shall feel liberated. It isn’t going to come. Not to someone like me. But I have learnt to not let the universe make promises to me. It has no reason to keep them. It wouldn’t care if it obliterated just another blob of reproducing cells. Why on earth would that change the course of anything?
There is no reason to anything. Not to the events that make my life a ‘life’, nor to the changes that make me continuously question, falter, alter, metamorphose. So for what am I turning in my grave? For nothing. I have been and I shall be alone. I don’t want to.
The next step is to heal- to erase the emotions that are an impediment in the way of that. Everything from hate to love, from love to lust (as crooned Ed Sheeran). But for how long can I be okay without these? Forever seems like too short a time right now.
And then, most importantly, I must face people. People who think they know best. Who might not think that way but their well-intentioned gestures and conversations can become torturous. How am I supposed to pull myself through that?
I can only ask myself one question. Have I the power to forgive myself and everyone who has ever hurt me? The answer to this has been yes for a very long time. I don’t know whether this makes me stronger or weaker.
I don’t want to meet people. I don’t want my premises questioned. I don’t know right from wrong. I just know something changed and it will never be the same. I hope I am able to maintain this objectivity throughout the rest of it.
Finding Fanny is a story of five characters from the small, nestled village of Pocolim- Ferdy, a postmaster who realizes he never got to tell the woman he loved that he wanted to be with her, Rosie, the widowed social worker who knows everything there is to know in the village, Angie her widowed daughter-in-law who lost her drunk husband on the very day she married him and now leads a complacent small-town life, Don Pedro, a painter who is a new denizen of the village and obsessed with the idea of Rosie as a muse and Savio, the newly-returned young man who had been in love with Angie six years ago and came back to town (for some reason) on the day of his father’s funeral.
Distinctly flavoured, these five characters set out on a road trip with different intentions: Ferdy to find his lost childhood sweetheart, Angie to help him, Rosie to ‘protect’ her daughter-in-law, Pedro for a chance to capture his delusive painting and Savio to somehow reunite with his childhood love. The objectives of the five protagonists bring them at loggerheads with one another as they struggle to maintain their calm and carry their own burdens.
The characters were very well-portrayed. Naseerudin Shah’s Ferdy is an adorably lost old man, Pankaj Kapoor plays his perverted and caustically moody painter to perfection; Dimple Kapadia’s Rosy is similarly well-crafted in her annoying and defensive retorts. Deepika does a good job as the saccharine young widow seeking her own answers while trying to help the people she loves. Arjun Kapoor plays a broody young man who breaks into angry outbursts at will but carries a soft heart below it all.
The movie is quirky and well-shot. At times, it was trying too hard to be something more than it was but that was okay too. Throughout its slowly turning road trip, you are kept entertained and although there are a few moments where you are left wondering what the characters are really trying to say or why they are behaving in a particular way, by the revelation at the very end I was amused at its subtle maturity: sometimes, the things we are dreaming about become so lofty in our heads that we aren’t able to admire the very simple but beautiful way in which are life is offering them to us. Instead, we run along imagined tracks in search for elusive truths.
As Deepika’s Angie puts it in the very end, “We were just a bunch of losers who were looking for love but we wouldn’t have known it even if it had been dancing in front of our eyes. And look at us now, deluded into believing that just because we have had this experience, we are better off and know more than we did before. Wrong again! The only truth is that people die but love lives on.”(Roughly translated from memory)
Additional note: Loved every outfit worn by Deepika in the movie.
I am not a lie
At least I don’t think so
I want to be a motion
On someone’s skin and bones
I want to be a tenderness
In the heat of something good
I am not a waterfall
Except sometimes I am reduced to tears
I want to be the only reason
Morning turns to night and back
I want to be the owner
Of every tide on every shore
I don’t want to be this slow sad song
Standing on a tilted axis
Watched every single day
Like I am nothing but a bartered good
Borrowed for a few hours
But never allowed to thrust out far
I don’t want to be your fear
Of darkness, hopelessness, abandonment
I have my own despairs
Challenging me into a metamorphosis
Continuously turned, never fully cured
I am not a tragedy
But I can’t break this fall.
‘Did I say I was not human?’
‘You don’t have to say it for me to know it’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘I’m not sure. When I am, I will tell you.’
I think you can be so much more
Than just another person.
Maybe. On the surface of it
We are drifting souls
I have so much more to tell you
But not here on earth. Somewhere else.
Perhaps a tête-à-tête on Neptune would do it.
That is the furthest I will go for
A chance to converse with you
I wouldn’t believe you were the hero
Not while you watch your own story
Dispassionately abandon you- a sorry child
An orphan left outside a charity
Besides, my vigil from afar is a far better watch
Bitter disappointment will otherwise beckon
And yet the enigma of this unexplained sojourn
Makes me feel entitled to an explanation
Silly me. It has taken so long to realize
That life is a big unanswered question
My guts may spill all on the floor
If I reach the solution of what has now become
My very favourite problem.
I shall never forget
The feeling of
Not wanting to be
From beneath these stars
Gazing at me so lovingly
Cruel from afar
I sense an emptiness
Because I shall be alone anyway.
I shall never forget
I was young and reckless once
I feel like an old soul
Sitting so primly
Won’t leave me
Surfing safely to a wave
On an emotionless ocean
I shall never forget
Clinging to the bathroom floor
Hoping to feel no more
That first night I fell through vacuum
With no floor beneath my feet
Hearing voices guide me
Wondering how anyone
Can ever want to destroy me
I shall never forget
How hurtful, hateful, vengeful
This world can chose to be
Chiselling me out on a platter
Like a display in
Without my permission
To a piece of art
An abhorred object.
I shall never forget
I was a dew drop once
Fallen at dawn
Having spent the night
Fighting monsters in the clouds
With an invisible sword
And a blunt bloody knife
Until it hit me
The blood was mine.
I shall never forget
Wondering if I was nothing
But a broken, half-beaten
The silence shook me
There was no beauty
So unlike the movies
I shall never forget
How words bit me
How images haunted me
And swirling in circles
The traps lay long and low
And I entangled myself willingly
I shall never forget
The wounds that deeply fill me
Creeping out at night
Doubtfully whisper to me
Are you new yet or still
Swimming in the same dark lake?
Will you come out and play again
Or coward! Hide with long-shed remains?
Decker works as an intelligence operative for the United States and is extremely good at what he does. After a disastrous operation messed up by a new recruit under Decker’s watch, he decides he has had just about enough of the anonymous gypsy life. And so he quits his job and impulsively takes off to Santa Fe in New Mexico, falling in love with its sprawling, sunny landscape. He starts working as a real estate agent and meets Beth Dwyer- a beautiful woman with a damaging past. Their whirlwind two month romance, however, ends with a dangerous midnight encounter following which Beth mysteriously disappears. Decker is now left with a bunch of urgent questions about the woman he loves: where did she go and why? Who was she? Was she just using him? Is there more to it? Can he save her before she ends up dead?
Extreme Denial was a rather formulaic novel commensurate with romance, crime, action and containing all the elements needed to get this stuff going: explosives, double agents, guns, sex, gorgeous women with deadly secrets and so forth. The story begins all right- a messed up operation, a spur-of-the-moment purchase in a captivating town, the entry of Beth and a magical romance. I also enjoyed the night-time encounter that changes the pace of the story.
But beyond the encounter, the plot begins to droop slowly. By that point, there were plenty of interesting turns that the story could have taken to remain engaging. Instead, action is given precedence over suspense and the whole thing starts to fall apart. Two hundred pages in, I had given up hopes of something exciting twisting the story into a new direction. Even then I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt until I reached the ending, despite sensing that nothing different was coming up.
So it was one of those books that you can consume in one easy day and be done and over with. The protagonists were likeable, if unchiselled but the book’s summary did not leave me with a lot of expectations in that department to begin with. The antagonists on the other hand, were psychopathic madmen without an ounce of rationality in their crass agendas. The plot was founded on rather crude objectives.
Rating: 2/5 stars.
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