While I was in High School you were in still in primary school. When you came to High School I had marched ahead. While you were still there I joined College but by the time you came there I was out of that place.
Recently when I came to that part of the world, you were home while, though we met briefly, I was visiting relatives and you went out for a family function while I was home. Next time I come home, you will be on a vacation and while you return, I will be packing my bag back to this stranger city.
Say, in which part of the world shall we meet?
You are a musician. Music is your language. I am a young man who attempts writing poems. Poetry is my language. I haven’t heard your music. You haven’t read my poems. You say that you do not understand poetry. I say I don’t understand music. If we enter the world of music, you are a practitioner of Carnatic music and I am one who enjoys Hindustani music. In the world of poetry I attempt poetry in Hindustani language. But you say that you don’t understand the Hindustani tongue.
Say, in which language shall we have a dialogue? In which language shall we communicate?
According to you I am a rational person, a realist who is opinionated towards the happenings of the world. To you I have brain at the centre of my self. I see you as an opposite to this. You yourself acknowledge that you are more of an imaginative being, who finds happiness living in an imaginary world. You like looking at colors of the world. Looking through your eyes, I have planted my eyes at the darkness which swallows every color. You are of the belief that you are an emotional being while I am an intellectual being. Your belief in God is strong. I believe that there is no God. You love animals. I find it disgusting if animals are in my immediate surrounding. I get attached to humans and you fear getting attached to humans.
Say, walking on which path shall we turn this dwaita in to adwaita?
You might ask- what is the need to meet at a point of the world and speak in a tongue that is familiar to both and have a dialogue and communicate to turn dwaita into adwaita?
Though not opposing, different points, different languages when met accidentally and walked two steps together, there was a spark which lit a lamp inside me. This lamp which went unrecognized by me till now has announced itself and as a result this letter is unfolding before you.
Yes, as your imagination and your awareness might have perceived by now, I have started liking you. When did this feeling build a nest inside me, is something which I myself am not aware of. But this feeling has been living within me from sometime, even before I myself realized its existence within me.
Drop by drop, when this feeling announced itself to me, I tried combating it with all sort of logic. It is true that I attempted to defeat it but in the process I got defeated and submitted myself to this feeling.
If you ask me what in you did I like, I have no answer. This silence can be understood as a feeling which cannot be enveloped in words. Shall I say that I fell for your music?- I havent heard your music to this day. Shall I say that I fell for your sharp bright eyes or for your captivating smile? If that is the case I should have fallen for you in the very first meeting of ours, for I had noticed the lovely eyes and smile of yours then itself. But it did not happen so. In the course of time, in your company, walking with you, speaking to you, laughing with you, unknowingly I started liking you.
By the time I woke up to this emotion of mine, I was in this stranger city. While taking lonely steps in the unknown roads of this city, attempting to reconstruct the broken life with bleeding hands, you and my feelings for you flowered completely within me. My loneliness, after the coming of spring, amidst the flowered feelings, started weaving dreams. Dreams about living and leading a life with you.
In the heart of this dream, there was an element of doubt. The doubt was this- will we be able to meet at one point and converse in a language which both of us will understand?
But during my recent visit to the home town, while we walked in the rain under the same umbrella, this doubt vanished. In that rain while you came and held the umbrella, may be, you too were aware that the small umbrella was not enough to save both of us from the rain completely. I was aware. But still we walked together. Half drenched and half clean.
The left part of my body was drenched in the rain and the right part of your body. But the right part of my body and the left part of your body remained clean and warm. That day, the right part of my body remained clean because the right part of your body got drenched. And the left side of your body remained clean because the left side of me got drenched.
Similarly, if we walk together may be my rational will get the wings of imagination and your imaginations will get the gravitation of reality. My poems can come together with your music to make a beautiful song.
Will you coat my poems with your music and turn it in to a beautiful song? I am ready to wet the left side of me to keep your left side clean. Will you wet your right side to keep my right side clean?
There is no urgency attached to the answer. Take your time. Give it a serious thought…
It appears to you that you are an emotional being and I a thinking being. But it is I who has let his emotions in this letter and it is you who will be thinking now. It appears to me that somewhere a part of you has entered me and a part of me has entered you. Without our notice have you become a part of me and have I become a part of you? Both of us need to think of this too…
Waiting for your answer. And for you…
[A fiction love letter originally written for Helpost]
In a small town, somewhere in South India, a journalism student, when asked to make a radio feature on Labours Day on May 1st chose to visit the nearby hospital of national fame and interviewed Dr. Pai at the hospital Labour ward. What followed was, Dr. Pai, when posed with the question, “Your thoughts on Labours day?” saying, “I wonder why on labour day, there are flags with the symbol of sickle and hammer everywhere when a sickle and hammer was never, even in the stone age, used in a labour ward.” The gender-sensitive student then asked if there were special facilities for women in the labour ward. Dr. Pai, with a twinkle in his eye, answers the budding journalist’s question with great pride that their hospital’s labour ward was “exclusively for women only.”
The aspiring journalist was taught a great deal of ethics and social responsibility as a part of the course. With such knowledge ingrained deep into his conscious and subconscious, the student in order to gather a medical-ethical dimension about labour and oppression, reportedly, spoke to a faculty nearby. “Rubbish,” was the answer of the interviewee who walked away. The puzzled student came to the conclusion that it was a clear comment which encompassed the pitiable state of the labourers and also the appalling state of ethics in labour, without realizing that the radio feature was in a distasteful condition.
Though, satisfied with the answers, the aspiring journalist fell short on the mandatory time duration required for the feature and hence, to fill the space up, decided to interview another faculty of the institute. The Professor was on the phone when the student approached him but was kind enough to ask the student to wait. Moving right and left while speaking on the phone, the Professor said, “I have a student here who wants to talk to me.” When the student asked for a ‘byte,’ the Professor with eyes as bright as sunlight commented, “We live in a post-modern era and we still call labour ward operation theaters as THEATER. Nonsense. We live in a post-cinematic era and our terminologies are stuck in the age of Shekappa Iyer, I mean Sheikh Peer and his theater of tragedy.” The student interrupted in-between to ask, “Sir, do you mean Shakespeare?” to which the Professor said, “Yes yes, Sheikh Peer. You should read his short stories. World classic, they are.” As the student was making notes, the Professor continued, with both his hands moving in circles, “We should rename labour ward operation theaters as Virtual Labour Ward to keep labourers in-tune with the cyber and virtual world we are living in. We are all stuck in a theater, when the world has moved to virtual reality. When the world is three dimensional, like in theater, some are forward and some are backward. In order to bring equality in the world, we need to turn the world to flat and make it two dimensional. Then, it will be an egalitarian society. This is the activism of the new age of virtual reality.”
The student was more than happy with the feature, since now, it was right on-time. But when the concerned faculty heard out the feature, the student was sternly told, “These are all expert comments. But where are the real people? Go interview some ladies in the labour ward and include them in the feature, only then your feature will be complete.”
[A fiction article originally written for Helpost]
Background: After the ABVP goons attacked FTII students on 21 Aug 2013 we decided to hold a protest rally on the 26th of August. By then we had managed to grab the attention of the nation with the help of media and social media. We were gathering support for the protest march from various organizations and parties. A lot of meetings took place in the Institute with regard to the nature structure and texture of the protest. There were voices of dissent from within who did not agree with getting on the streets. Confusions. Questions. Every voice had to be heard and every matter had to be discussed. Majority had to be convinced.
As we were gathering all the courage, strength and energy, while addressing all of the confusion and questions, for the 26th, we were told that we do not have the police permission for the protest. Lot had to be discussed in the GBM on the 25th night. There were already lot of questions and confusions again. Finally, after long debates and discussions, it was decided that we will go ahead with the protest march without police permission even when told by the police that it would be at our own risk. The decision was taken based on majority with some doubts still lingering in the air.
Lead to the moment: As decided we all gathered at the wisdom tree on the 26th. A riot van was standing outside the gate and a team of police was all set for the action. Inside at the wisdom tree we all gathered. The GenSec called for a minute’s silence in memory of Narendra Dabholkar following which he threw open the option of either having the protest march on some other day with proper police permission, or just have a protest meeting at the gate and not march till Omkareshwari bridge as decided or just go ahead with the march as a protest against not just the attack but also as a protest against the denied permission. The options were given to the students and the final decision had to be taken.
There was silence for a moment and suddenly a voice was heard- “Can I say something?” It was the Director of the Institute. He slowly came forward and in a patronizing tone said, “If you go ahead with the protest without permission you will also be breaking the law like the ones who attacked you did. I understand your anger but we should not let ourselves be led by emotions. Let us act rational. Let us be guided by reason. We are responsible citizens and we consider ourselves artists. We should behave in a responsible and respectable manner. Finally the decision is yours all I request is to take the decision not emotionally but based on reason.”
There was a strange silence now. Perplexity was breathing heavily in that silence. Suddenly a major chunk of students started having second thoughts about marching. All the efforts to unite and agitate was about to dilute because of the Director’s deceiving speech in a patronizing tone. One more moment of silence and people, one by one, would disperse, it appeared.
The moment: It is at that moment Kislay, who was standing next to me, came front and started addressing all of us. “I completely agree with the Director,” he began which took me by surprise. But then he continued to say, “Yes our decisions should be based on reason. But I don’t understand why it is always believed that to be emotional is to do something and to be rational is to not do certain things. We have decided to go ahead with the march and we have reasoned it out well. We have discussed and debated it for long. Our decision is not based on emotion but reason. We use our reasoning power to do things and not to not do things.”
Those words made sense to many who started having second thoughts after the Director’s speech. Without giving any space for second thoughts from now Shukla Jee cried the slogan, “Aawaaz do…” and only few voices came rising, “hum ek hai.” Shukla Jee called again, “Aawaaz do…” and this time more voices came rising, “hum ek hai..” and Shukla Jee called again, “Aawaaz do…” and all students in one voice said, “Hum ek hai…”
Now there was nothing to stop. GenSec immediately announced the route for the march and the plan and in no time the march began from the wisdom tree with the slogan, “Lado Padaayi Karney Ko, Pado Samaaj Badalney Ko.” [Fight for your rights to study and study to fight for your rights]
For over an hour at the main gate we sang revolutionary songs: “ley mashaaley chal padey hai…“, “ka se kabootar kha se khargosh badey aa sey aazaad…” “hum hongay kamyaab ek din…” “mashaaley lekar chalna jab tak raat baaki hai…” and while singing we lived every word of the song. There also was our own alteration of the slogan “Ho Chi Minh, We Shall Fight We Shall Win,” as “Eisenstein Pudovkin, We Shall Fight We Shall Win,” with which over two hundred people marched till Omkareshwari bridge.
Personal note: That was the day when I realized: sweat smells sweet.