The screen is alive!!!

Credits : google

The first ray hits the fabric. The spectators settle in their assigned seats.

The pixels, each of different colours, find their respective place on the fabric. Each of the pixels, programmed and intermeshed, collaborate to form pre-decided familiar shapes. The pixels dance in sync dutifully, on the directions of the maestro above. Each teaming up with other multitudes of lights to form images, magically moving to curl up the lips to smile, to shed the hanging tear and to dilate the pupils to form the illusion of wonder. As the myriads of emotion play on its surface, the fabric comes alive.

The actors played out their characters. The story is a unfathomable mystery yet. It carries within its bosom, the possibilities to burat into a humorous comedy or spawn into a grieving tragedy or unravel an exciting odyssey. The dancing pixels fabricate emotions on the fabric which find resonance in the hearts of the audience. The tear is surreptitiously wiped, the laughter noisily shared and the excitement chewed along with the skin beneath the nail. As the story grips the fantasy, every subjective eye starts to live the life of the characters, coloured in the tinge of the beholders script.

The spectators fuse into the pixel, not only seeing the dance of the shapes, but become the shape itself. Each one identifying with the feelings which warmed up the screen. Each observing mind, merging with the thoughts and intent behind the actions of flat beings on the fabric.

The story eventually frenzied into the climax. It is a moment of judgment. One of the kings have to die, the black or the white. The colours stay loyal to the light as projected by the overhead unseen beam, irrespective to the effect it has on the beholding eyes. The presence or absence of the pixels form the opposites, thus evoking love or hate in the filtered eyes. The hackles on each neck is raised and the atmosphere is charged, baying for action. The emotions are no longer, just the projection by the maestro in the projection room…they are real. They burn the neural pathways urging the physical being to act. The hero fights for the cause as does the villain. The good and the bad is coloured by the beam of light. The hero triumphs over the villain. The pent up emotions of the crowd escape in a loud cheer. But the reel still whirs. There is still some story left.

Oh no!!!

It indeed is the dreaded tragedy. It was what the spectators dreaded, but somehow expected. The director of this motion picture is known only to make tragedies. Eventually, all lighter moments are lost from memory and just the miseries are remembered. The cheer of the heroic triumph is marred by the bleeding hero, fatally wounded in the ultimate duel. The villain lies slain, but the ebb of life drains off the hero too.

The bodies on the seats responds. They feel drained too. The lips curl, the eyes shed the tear and the pupils dilate in wonder. The two being are one, the flat beings on the screen and the flesh and blood on the seats.

Hero breaths the last in the arms of his love. His soul rising and disappearing beyond the limits of the screen. The story ends as the pixels freeze on the face of the hero’s love, staring in helpless grief. The maestro ceases the flow of light and fabric is lifeless again.

The spectators are stupefied by the drama, still wishing the fabric to come alive. To once again see the face of their love, they stay at their respective seats reluctant to let go of the illusion. The feelings still raw keep the bonds strong. Just one last look is all that they desired.

But the ushers of the cinema are on job to move these bodies out of this world of drama. There are others waiting in line to witness the drama once again. They are eager to see the same ‘fabric’, once again, come Alive.

Cracking the JEE

The admit cards, the passport size picture and the government approved ID were checked before we got into the car. These, at least would get us into the ring. The ingredient to crack the bout was presumed to be stacked in the nearest location on the RAM in the CPU of the brain for quick retrieval at the time of need.

The Google map showed a drive of 26 minutes, after its artificial intelligence consulted many more Google map users who were on the same route. Many more travelers, travelling with the same aspirations and similar apprehensions.

The FM radio employed songs of Kishore Kumar to sooth the frayed nerves. No one talked, as the soulful voice traveled across the time bridge connecting the 70s to the last of the teens of the 22nd century. As the RJ broke the spell, I realised we were not even hearing the song. We were engrossed in our own thoughts. The mind had moved ahead, pacing the unformed future.

Quite, was not the state of existence which was habitable for Anjali. She initiated the conversation, prempting my urge to revise the chemical equations and the mathematical formulae. We, instead talked of the many tips trending on the Internet, on how to crack the exam. I wondered, if there was a correlation between the people who made those blogs or the people who visited those sites with their pass results. But I guess it wasn’t something that would get a favourable result. Also, I wanted to impart the wisdom, of how it was more important to be well prepared than to rely on these ‘tricks of the trade’. But I guess our Arjun wasn’t keen on the Gita discourse while traveling towards the battle for future life.

The trip was spent laughing on anecdotes of people preparing for the battle and the pragmatism of the tips. The light heartedness was something each of us clung to. However, the upbeat mood eventually submitted to the inescapable law of “All good things must come to an end”. The gloom was thick as we cramped into the viscous traffic jam. Moving slowly through the sludge like a suspended impurity in a dense solute. As we inched closer to the collosium we could see the anxious gladiators sharpening their weapons through well thumbed notes of an year long accumulated knowledge. The anxiety spilling over to their guardians. The gloom also turned the green lights into red.

The futility of travel by the wheels was evident but people were unwilling to let go. We decided otherwise. We broke out of the conveyer belt and parked our car in a small bylane. We walked past the snail paced line of vehicles, each capable of greater potential but stuck in the rut with the bonnets cramped into the bumper ahead.

We reached the entry of the battle zone. The lines converged at the first check point. Thats where the support staff of parents, tutors and some accompanying fairy god mothers had to let go of their wards. That’s where the gladiators had to move on, into the battle space armed only with the knowledge in their minds and the mandatory material things that would ensure their entry. Now they milled together and forged ahead as one mass.

Parents were moving on to higher grounds to have one last look at their wards before they entered the arena. We were not to be left behind as we jostled competitively to find the best viewing site.

Ah!! We were in time to see our daughter emerge from the first check point victoriously. We were about to shout out to her, when we saw her making animated conversation with other co-participants of the race. Making friends with a complete strangers, related only by similar aspirations and apprehensions. There she was, sharing the infectious laughter she is blessed with. There she was, helping the other just-formed-friend, with the forms and the documents. Then, before we could shout out to her, they entered the arena together. We did not shout out her name. We just watched with a knowing smile on our lips.

The result of this exam was still somewhere in the future.

But we were happy she had already cracked the exam.

We want to be slaves

Freedom! Freedom!

Chanted the revolutionaries as they marched resolutely against the oppressors.

…And one day they were free.

That should be the end, isn’t it? But then it is not. Its a new order. But it still isn’t free. Freedom is elusive. They could not find it. They continue their struggle.

Did they really want to be free? Do YOU want to be free? Do I want to be free?

What do I seek? What is freedom?

Freedom, for me. is to do what I want to to do, whenever I want. Freedom also means that, nobody should restricts me from doing what I want to do, whenever I want to do. Therefore freedom is also equally a restriction on others so that I can be free.

Freedom is unrestricted thought and action. Freedom would mean no boundaries and limits.

Now close your eyes and think about the space completely limitless. Space with no boundaries in either direction. With no base. Yes no base!! Wouldn’t that be a boundary too? Now think of moving around in this space (I guess calling it ‘this’ space itself will be a curb on freedom). As one closes his/her eyes, the hand would instinctively go to feel the walls to walk along, a railing to place the trust on. We want to hold on to something. Cling to the certainties of boundaries.

Yes, lets face it we are clingy as a species, as a life form. Possibly this clingy aspect of ours, is the factor which has been our survival. Clinging to the land as we evolved from the hunters and gatherers to the farmers. Clinging to groups of faiths as we tread on a path with no boundaries in search of the primordial question of ‘Who am I’?

We evolved in the quest of freeing ourselves from each initial state, only to find ourselves seeking the next state of certainty as we confront the limitless uncertainty of freedom.

Deep in our hearts we want to cling to rules. We collectively agree the best ways of living which is nearest to our imagined state of freedom. Each person exerting the his own way of thinking of being free. Thus in turn creating boundaries which the other person is not expected expected to cross to allow you, the ‘my’ freedom. These boundaries jostle with each other unseen, as the beings inside the bubble pretend to be free. Gradually, the bubble are settle in a tight matrix of other bubbles encasing other free beings. This pattern of matrix now defines the set of rules which define the collective sense of freedom. These agreed pattern is defined as the culture. The rules are the ethics we bind ourselves as a compromise to be nearest to the state of imagined freedom. Each being defined in a set of parameters and predictable behaviour to maintain the harmony. The rules get edified as the Dharma. Each individual set of rule based on individual set of tendencies. Each set of tendencies expressing themselves to define the limits of the bubble trying to derive definition of free living. Each finding its place in the matrix wearing the warm cloak of certainty hiding the hideous inside fabric of submissiveness. The allure of submission leading to hierarchies and skewed privileges which form the seeds for the next set of struggle to seek the illusive freedom.

Therefore we want to remain in a paradox. Wanting to be slaves as we seek the next set of parameters, next set of boundaries for Freedom. Indulging in a continuous and unending cycle of struggle.

This set piece, remains the next state of freedom, existing and surviving only till the time it starts to suffocate the beings inside. Or when the beings realise the illusion of freedom inside the bubble of existence within the cramped matrix.

Till the time the being inside once again starts to seeks answers to the initial and eternal question – “Who am I?

The beginning of the end of this struggle is when we actually get that answer of ‘Who’ wants to be free. And possibly it ends with the deeper understanding that we are actually ‘limitless’…therefore free.

Hey Welcome!!! My dear new year

A new year

A powerful yet artificial
human construct
Seperating past from the future

A new year

an opportunity
to start afresh.
To renew our quest
for a fulfilling life,
leaving the baggage
Of the past behind.

As the year turns new

May we move forth,
enabled with pleasant memories
of the wonderful year gone by
Unshackled and free
of our limitation left behind.

As the year turns new

May we move forth
Inspired by hope
of a wondrous new year
full of opportunities
and unlimited possibilities

Welcome!!! My new year
I believe in the possibities you bring
I believe in the miracle of you
I believe in Life

Happy New Year

अपने कल का कलाकार

यादों का क्या
अतीत का आईना है।
अतीत का क्या
अपनी यादों ने ही बनाया है।

कुछ याद रहा
कुछ भूल गया।
कुछ याद रखा
कुछ भुला दिया।

मेरा अतीत मेरा है
मैंने बनाया है
मेरा भविष्य मेरा है
मैंने बनाना है

Inheritance

The rubber tried to hold on to the tar, but it was a losing battle. The speed was too high and time too less. Umesh was distracted by the message on the mobile as he executed the turn on the hilly serpentine road to Manali. Swathi slept peacefully as many events crowded into the last few seconds. The monstrous truck was hurtling down the same road as it appeared around the bend at the last moment. Umesh hit the breaks instinctively and the tyres screeched as they laboured to do what they were created to do. But the tyres were literally losing ground. The wet roads, the speed of truck and the late instruction by Umesh were stacking the odds against them. The inevitable was about to become a tragic reality. Swathi opened her sleepy eyes to stare at death. She never had a chance to have a last look at her husbands face as the truck rammed the chassis of the car into her rib cage. The last thought she had was for Aditya who lay strapped in the back seat. Her last prayer to God remained mumbled on her bruised lips

“….please save him!!!”

************************************

Sunder Lal was alone at home, going about his routine, which, more or less, had got fixed since he retired 12 years ago. It was 30 Sep 2006, 12 years since his wife had died at the Military Hospital in New Delhi. She succumbed to the fatal consequence of Dengue. This was the first outbreak of such a deadly fever. No one could predict such a catastrophe. He was serving his last day of his army service in the north east when he recieved the tragic news. The doctor had assured him of the improving situation.  Lulled by this apparent hope, he gave in to his foolish desire to stay back for his farewell dinner.

She had left him with two sons Bhavesh and Umesh.  Bhavesh was the elder one. He stayed at home with mother. He had completed his Bachelor Degree in Commerce. He was preparing for the Bank examination. Well that is what he claimed he did. Umesh, the younger one, had recently joined IIT Guwahati. He was the very first to have cleared the coveted exam among the community. Sunderlal and his wife were so proud of him. Sad his wife had to leave before she could see her son becoming an Engineer. Sunderlal asked him to join him at Guwahati Airport.

Bhavesh was yet to reach home with the mortal remains, when Sunderlal and Umesh reached home. The house was teeming with the relatives. The mood was of disbelief. Each one was speculating the cause and was placing the blame. The blame shifted from the irresponsible government, the unusually hot weather in September caused by global warming and to state of disinterest shown by Bhavesh while pursuing the treatment.

Sunderlal could not blame any one else. He would live with this heavy burden of the cross. The ‘whys?’, ‘what ifs?’  were questions which were likely to haunt him recurrently in his mind space.

The questions still echoed in his mind with an eerie clarity.

                           ***************************************************

Today, it was another day of routine. 12 years hence, the pain had reduced to a mere  numb throb. But at days like these, when no one else was around he missed his wife. In these day bound by routine, he painfully missed another significant event which had kept him alive. He missed taking Aditya, his favourite grandson to school. His scooter, although old, was faithful enough to never fail him on this critical task of the day.

The circle on the calender marking the date of Aditya’s return from his holiday at Manali, was still four days away.

RRRRINGGG!!!!!

The phone rang with a uncultured and intrusive ring. It lived up to its jarring personality.

“Am I speaking to Mr Sunderlal?” spoke the omnious voice on the other end of the device.

Sunder Lal would have normally banged the phone after speaking his heart out at the intrusive tele-marketer. But this time he knew it wasn’t going to be any selling. The omnious voice warned of a “Loss”.

“This is Sub Inspector Dhumal” identified the caller. The tone combined with the identity of the caller made his gut recoil and his hand grip the phone harder.

“Yes…? Sunderlal… er… Col Sunderlal, retired… speaking”, he replied, trying to hide his worry.

“I am sorry to inform you that your Son Umesh and his family have met with an accident” said the officer with a practiced ease.

The details sifted through the dazed ear of a man losing his sanity. He was not hearing a word, but he did not need words to feel the deep sense of loss.

“But, by the God’s grace, the child has survived, unhurt. But he is in no state to identify the bodies of his parents. Can I request you to come here to identify and collect the body?”

The last statement made him break down and cry. The phone slipped and crashed on the floor.

                              ***************************************************

Nobody spoke as they traveled on the same winding road in the opposite direction. The irony of the situation was stark. In one direction it led to happiness and fun, while on the opposite end it led towards gloom and despair.

The gloomy silence was broken as Bhavesh recieved a call from his office enquiring his likely date of return.

“Your sanctioned leave ends tomorrow. Manager wants you to meet him tomorrow”. The officious voice of the office clerk echoed on the bluetooth speaker of the car.

“I am not dead. I will return!!” Retorted Bhavesh, irritated by so many factors. The tragic occurance, the inconvenience and the added responsibilities of his father and Umesh’s child were weighing on his mind.

“How can you talk like that to your employer, the provider of your bread” implored Sunder Lal.

“For the money that they provide you cannot even buy a loaf of bread. And now I have two extra hungry mouths to feed.” complained Bhavesh.

“Be sensible Bhavesh, there is a child in the car who has just lost his parents. He is your Nephew goddammit!!!” spoke Sunder Lal in a hushed but stern whisper.

“Thats your grandson, born out of your favourite child. Don’t lecture me now.”

Aditya snuggled closer to Sunderlal, his only thread of sanity left.

Sunderlal looked affectionately down at the young boys face. He ran his hands tbrough the boy’s hair. He thanked god as he saw the eyes were shut tight.

“God bless you, dear angel of sleep for saving this poor soul from the brutal teuth of life” he said a silent prayer.

Sunderlal failed to notice the shifting of the eyeballs under the clinched eyelids as they battled the welling up of the tears inside.

                   ************************************************

It had been an year since the unfortunate event had turned the lives of Sunderlal and Aditya into an tangled mess. Post that tragic event, both of them had shifted to Bhavesh’s place. The shift was more economic and administrative rather than emotional. The rental expenditure and the cost of maintenance of the palatial house was considered unnecessary by Bhavesh. The tragedy caused the double jeopardy for Aditya. The loss of family combined with the loss of familiar surroundings caused a severe strain on the psyche of the little boy. The cynical attitude of Bhavesh wasn’t helping either. It drew Aditya closer to his grand father. His grandfather was Aditya’s only island of solace and sanity. He never realised that Sunderlal felt the exact same feeling for Aditya. Each were a support for each other .

The routine was fixed.

Everyday, Sunderal would drop Aditya to school on his old and faithful scooter. He would be there much before the bell rang for the end of the school, waiting patiently under the old shady banyan tree opposite the school gate. As the long bell rang, heralding the long awaited “Chutti”, Sunderlal would cross the road and place himself at the centre and in the first file of the waiting mass of parents or assigned caretakers. Aditya would search him out and would feel happy to see him at the familiar spot. For that smile of recognition and relief, Sunderlal was prepared to jostle with the other claiming the same spot.

The ride to the school was filled by stories of Sunderlal. Stories of bravery and stories of patriotism, Stories of Mythology and stories of fantasy. Aditya would remain quite, partly because he was wanting to hear the stories and mostly because he was scared of the prospects of the school. Stories of Sunderlal took him on the ride of fantasy and wonder, away from the crippling thoughts of the school. The ride back would be full of stories from Aditya. Stories of fun and stories of deceits, stories of friendship and stories of enemies, stories of victories and stories of loss. Sunderlal would patiently listen to them, without judgement and prejudice.

Together, they lived in the world woven around with their stories. Truth and fantasy were unrecognisable as they merged into one glorious reality. These stories were their world. A well preserved world existing within the outer world. It was, as if the real world did not exist.

                   *****************************************************

Aditya woke up to a frenzied commotion. Bhavesh uncle was speaking in an urgent tone with someone on the phone. Aunty held her son close in a tight embrace possibly trying to shield him from the cacophony. Aditya wasn’t sure what was happening. He couldn’t dare ask. His eyes met Bhavesh uncle. There was irritation in the eyes.

Aditya felt unsure of what was happening. He wanted to dive back into his own world. He saw his grandfather’s room uncharacteristically open. He slowly walked in. He was filled with a heavy gloom. Somehow it seemed their world was breached. The environment was lifeless, there was no breeze. It was as if, it had died.

Sunderlal lay calmly, his face serene in contrast with the the frenzy outside the room. Was he dead? If this was death, why was his grandfather so peaceful. He felt happy for the peace his grandfather was experiencing. He was also slowly realising the enormity of the change in his life. The reality closed in on him.

The walls seem to rush in and create a wedge between him and the serene body of his grandfather. He was petrified. He wanted to shout at his grandfather to move quickly towards his side, because he was rooted to the floor. He panicked as his voice was also stuck within him. It seemed to echo within him with no perceptible effect on the outside. His silent screams were making no effect on the oblivious body of his grandfather. The walls were looming large. It rose from within the floor too. It was getting claustrophobic.

Aditya shouted his lung out. It was not a cry. It was a shriek.

Bhavesh uncle was shouting instruction to his wife, “Stop this imbecile from creating a ruckus. I am trying to speak to the hospital guys. These people want to be sure he is dead” grumbled Bhavesh. He cupped the receiver as added conspiringly “All these are ways to extract some money. I know how to handle these leeches. You just make him quite!!!”

The deal was done. Bhavesh was good at it. There was no need of a travel to the hospital. The body could be taken to the cremation ground. There was no family to waited for. The rituals were to be completed earliest. Why waste time and money. It would be a private affair.

The body burned over the sandalwood. The charred remains were collected as the mortal remains only to be prepared for being sprayed over a flowing water. Submitted and consumed by the fire and returned to the water.

The fire was lit by Bhavesh. He was entitled to do it. It was the rule of inheritance.  He was allowed to offer the mortal remain of his father to the fire. Inheritance of this obligation was his right. This right also entitled Bhavesh to be the legal heir.

Aditya looked at the urn full of ash. The ashes were the mortal remains. It wasn’t his grand father. This wasn’t what he was looking for. Aditya was looking for something they both shared. Then he looked up into the sky. No answer seem to appear. No answer seemed to be an explanation. He wasn’t even sure what to ask. His world had disappeared. The world that they shared. He suddenly blamed his grandfather for taking his entire world. He was not supposed to take that.  Their world. For that he was the heir. He was the only entitled one. The worldly laws were of no consequence for this pronouncement.

That was his inheritance. And it had turned into ashes.