Yet Another Reason

You and I
Set out on an expedition
Looking solely for a reason.

We broke down the density of forests
Traversed
The barrenness of oceans
The multitude of deserts
And the emptiness of skies

There’s no corner we left untouched

Our waxing entrances
Are marked by waning exits
Our rushed moments
Are followed by hushed silences
Our cyclic whims
Are characterized by toothy smiles.

There are no reasons
But somehow that isn’t unreasonable.

Consciously or subconsciously
We try to reason with our reasons
But our expedition never seems to have
A reasonable reason.

(Author’s note: This is an attempted translation of Afsar’s Telugu poem ‘Inkoka Kaaranam’ from his collection ‘Intivaipu’. Without his permission oops.)

Dinner Table

My dinner table is my favorite thing in my house. It’s the place where my parents and I sit down together as a family and talk about all sorts of things. From whether or not Shah Rukh Khan’s baby is cute to whether or not 6 is the most interesting number- we discuss it all. The setting for these conversations is often aligned with our stances on most of these arguments- my mom to my right, my dad to my left, and me in the middle.

With her small temple she’s made for herself behind her, my mom represents all things Hindu and essentially traditional in our house. With his library filled with Marxist literature behind him, my dad represents anything liberal in our house. And then there’s me- right in the middle of all this. I’m always picking a different side every day. When my mom speaks of omnipotent forces like God, I see why she invests her faith there. At the same time, when my dad speaks of the downfalls of religion, I can see his points. Therefore, my ideology and community arise from these two conflicting schools of thought. I’m neither conservative nor liberal; rather I’m, what I like to call, a centrist.

Centrists, to me, is a community of the new-age generation that grows up in an antithetical environment such as mine. Our opinions and actions are generally varied on different subjects. Though we have very firm views, they’re often unique and surprising. For example, even though I identify as agnostic, I make it a point to celebrate every single festival; whether it be Eid, Diwali or Christmas, it’s not about the faith for me- it’s about the festivities. Therefore, this community allows me to have sparse views instead of forcing me to subscribe to either school of thought. It gives me the tools necessary to respect any ideology and thus makes me a rather empathetic person.

I can’t imagine not belonging to this community because it’s not like I chose it; it chose me. After decades of ambivalence and confusion from conversations at my dinner table, it was this community that gave me the assurance and maturity to accept my differences. My place within this community is, therefore, that of consistency because of its inherently changeable nature. I may someday become a full-fledged Hindu with a small Ganesha idol in my bag, or I may even be an atheist teaching my kids about how ‘good religion’ is an oxymoron. Either way, I would still be a centrist because my views on other topics would be different.  

These differences are exemplified at my glorious dinner table that I now know has had such a pivotal role in helping me identify my community. My parents and their constant squabbling have given me the power to pick and choose what I believe in. The food we eat- with its mixed spices and flavors- serves as a symbolism for our family itself. And it is now that I know which community I belong to that I realize I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Senses of Nature

I feel the kiss of mist
Seeping through my skindownload
Bringing out the believer in me
Knowing not what it did.

I hear the swishing crash of a wave
Alarming every corner of me
Taking me away with it
Knowing not what it did. images

I smell the perfume of a gentle rose
Numbing my heart
Filling me with a sense of ecstasy
Knowing not what it did.

I taste a syrupy toothsome honey
Stinging my tongue
Making me sway with joyimages (1)
Knowing not what it did.

I envy nature
For its transcendent aura
For its unparalleled power
To create and destroy.

I look around me images (2)
And I know for sure
That everything is nature’s gift
That everything is for rapture.

Daddy

There are some people in your life without whom your entire life feels worthless. You can’t make a single decision without consulting these people. You can’t take a step forward in life without looking back to see that these people are behind you. You can’t ever let go of these people. These are the people you love.

Most people do not recognize these people until they’re gone. They don’t realize their importance in their lives. These are the unfortunate ones.

Then there are the fortunate ones. The ones who know who they want in their life. I know that I belong to this category because of one person: my dad.

My dad, to me, is a complete weirdo. I probably sound like a hypocrite when I say this but, his ego and his attitude are the most annoying things in the world. The way he never gives up on an argument and can drag a conversation until no one cares are very irritating. His temper, oh lord! He gets angry for every tiny thing. He’s probably mad at me right now for staying up past my bed time to write this (Sorry daddy).

At the same time, he’s the most amazing man ever. He is the most influential person in my life. Without his stupid debates and lame jokes, god knows what I’d be. The way he pisses me off and messes with me is one of my favorite things. Don’t even get me started on our intellectual conversations. The amount of senseless wisdom that comes out of these conversations is irreplaceable. The way we can talk about anything from nuclear war to Balakrishna’s amazing punch lines as we fiddle with our food at the dinner table annoys my mom in a way I cannot explain in words (Ask her about those conversations and she won’t stop complaining about us).

I just wanted to say that my father, to me, is the best father in the world. Everything I achieved and will achieve is because of all the love and support he gives me. He is the wisest and most smart person I know. I may never buy him a Lambhorgini (I don’t even know how to spell it) or take him around the world but, I will always respect him and love him. I never say anything positive about him because I know he’ll use it against me someday. That’s why you’ve always seen me crib and complain about him. But, in reality, I cannot live without all those things that make me crib and complain about him.

Happy birthday, nanna. I love you. You’re best daddy in the entire universe. Thanks for always being there.

Forever and always,
Bhavi.

P.S. Again, sorry for staying up late. Please don’t ground me.
P.P.S. Yes. You did teach me Remainder Theorem and Factor Theorem. Happy?

Finest China

I have a vase
It’s made of the finest China.
I know not where I found it.
I know not what it means.
I know not what its absence would do to me.

I have a vase
It’s made of the finest China.
Its beauty is inexplicable.
Its existence enigmatic.
Its place in my heart an irrational question.

I have a vase
It’s made of the finest China.
I refuse to touch it with my tangible hands.
I refuse to let go of its transcendent state.
I refuse to let a dark eye ruin its legacy.

I have a vase
It’s made of the finest China.
It wants to be explored.
It wants to move ahead.
It wants to display its timeless aura across a wider spread.

I have a vase
It’s made of  the finest China.
It does not realize its mortality.
It does not realize its  pestilent stupidity.
It does not realize it shall shatter at fall.

I have a vase
It’s made of the finest China.
It irks me to let it fall out.
It kills me to watch it hurt.
It devastates me to ignore its loss.

I have a vase
It’s made of the  finest China.
I know it’s my selfishness that draws all the lines.
I know that my childish whims annoy.
I know that my foolishness is severe.

I have a vase
It’s made of the finest China.
Alas! I must enter the stage.
I must ignore my conscience.
I must try.

 

Crashing Waves

Sometimes you feel like you don’t belong somewhere. As though everything else is enormous but you alone microscopic. You feel like you’re not worthy enough to be standing there. Somehow, these feelings might have made you feel as though I’m talking about a very negative thing. And rightly so, these feelings are judged to mean very bad thoughts or experiences. Recently, in a raft ride at the Na Pali coast of Hawaii, I felt all those things. But the funny part is, I had the time of my life.

The Na Pali coast is a huge mountainous coast on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Getting there by drive isn’t possible because one third of the island is not drivable and that so conveniently happens to be the Na Pali part of it.  Hence, the only way to get there was by boat. Although there were catamarans (sail boats), being the expert adventurers that my father and I are, we decided to take a bumpy and ‘you will TOTALLY get wet’ raft.

After about 45 minutes of a description guaranteed journey on the raft, we sighted dolphins. The dolphins weren’t as playful as the ones you might see in Sea World. They weren’t twirling around or anything. Just swimming and breathing. Bummer. Turns out ‘social animals’, like dolphins, are just animals that aren’t scared to be near you. They’re not animals that would come to you and say “Hey! How are you doin’?” or “I like your earrings.” Maybe that’s why humans are considered ‘social beings’.

Once the early morning sun had been replaced, rocky mountainous beaches replaced the sandy beaches. This wasn’t a very normal coastline because when I say ‘mountain’, I mean it quite literally. The mountains were towering high. One of the mountains, our guide tells me, is taller than the ‘Empire State Building’ in New York. As stunning as that mountain was, the sea caves created due to the friction between the waves and the mountains were even more unique. As our raft went into those caves, I was awestruck by the the illuminated Copper Sulphate Blue water, which happens to be my favorite color of ocean. The friction created so many other natural wonders like high arches, most of which looked like they had been carefully carved by the most skillful of people. Being the city girl I am, I have grown very disconnected with nature and its true self. Before, I thought of nature as a destructive being, capable of haunting things. How wrong I was. If not for those ‘haunting things’, I wouldn’t be writing this at my own convenience.

Later, we stopped at an inhabited ancient Hawaiian town on the coast and settled down for lunch followed by snorkeling. We toured the little town whose culture and history was very similar to many Asian countries. The ancient Hawaiians danced a sacred dance, prayed to gods based on their natural powers and weren’t discovered until a Westerner found them. Sound familiar? The only tragic difference being: their fate turned out to be different.

After lunch in that town, my mom, dad and I decided to go snorkeling. My parents don’t know how to swim, but they have to do everything, right? So, they were wearing all the snorkeling gear and standing by the raft, while I went actual snorkeling. A bit of an overstatement considering the fact that this was the first time I snorkeled. Now, floating over nearly 40 feet of water with wild fish might seem terrifying at first, but when you get the hang of it, you will not want to leave the water at all. I was one of the last four people to finish. The fish in the reef were just awesome. Not the modernly used, rotten ‘awesome’ but the very literal ‘awesome’. The one that means to be in complete awe of something. While snorkeling, you are aware of every breath you take. You are in command of every one of your senses. Unlike most times, you are controlled by your body, not your brain. It takes away everything but the peace within you. And yes, I’m talking about snorkeling, not death. It is definitely something everyone should have on his or her bucket list.

A trip back wrapped up the tour. If you ask me to go on that tour with you, the left side of me will reject. Let me explain why. Everyone loves ice cream (At least I do). If I give you ice cream everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you will enjoy it for the first couple of days. Later, you’ll get bored of it and will want something else. Anything but ice cream. Beauty has the same effect on you. If I go back there, I am afraid that I will get used to that caliber of beauty and I will stop appreciating it. The left side of me doesn’t want that.

But my right side is a rebel. It will long for it. It will want to go back. It will want to see the beauty again and again.

I do not know, for sure, what I would pick. I do not know, for sure, if I would crash waves. Again.

 

 

The Lion and the Bird

Here’s to the bird that sang to heavens
Who laid its fate for a melody
Who lost its voice in utterance
Who ended for beginning.

Here’s to the lion that sat in its den
Who hoped for light for nothing but feast
Who craved for life with utmost pleasure
Who lived upon denial.

Here’s to the bird that is forever lost
Whose last breath was air’s feeding
Whose body filled with fatigue couldn’t find a tree
Whose remains were consumed by the king.

Here’s to the lion to whom this was no loss
To whom the jungle was a mere puppet
To whom life was a new toy
To whom the bird was only a delicacy.

A moment comes when a question arises
It haunts us for all eternity
Alas, between the lion and the bird
Who is the real king?

An Honest Brat Vs. A Kind Liar

Imagine a situation where a loved one gives you something you don’t like. Something you never wanted. Something at whose thought you get the ‘chill’. To make a long story short: Something you hate. And then they ask you “How is it? Do you like it?”. What would you? Would you rather say “I love it! How did you know I always wanted it!” and be a kind liar, or say “I appreciate it but, I really don’t like it. Sorry…” and be an honest brat?

Most people would say that being a kind liar is better. After all, it does bring a smile to the other person’s face and fill their heart with happiness. It is a gesture of care and affection. If you can make someone feel so special then why do something else?

Agreed. Making someone else feel happy is a great feeling. But if this happiness comes from a lie, isn’t this happiness fake? Are the emotions of that person true? This is the only and probably the most major drawback of being a kind liar. The kindness is unreal. So all that remains then, is a lie. And discovering the truth after a lie would cause more pain to the person than the ugly, original truth.

Hence, I believe that being an honest brat is better. Sure the person will feel bad for a while but you won’t feel any guilt. You will not have lied and will have given criticism, which for humans is a necessity.

There are people who will disagree and I respect that. Everyone has their own opinion. So instead of giving a conclusion, I’ll give you an option. You tell me. Is it better to be an honest brat or a kind liar?

Cycle Rikshaw Vs. Auto Rikshaw: Who deserves more?

Earlier today, my parents and I happened to arrive at the railway station of my aunt’s town. Due to a samaikyandhra agitation, the auto-rikshaws were on strike. Hence, we decided to use a cycle rikshaw. I must say, the cycle rikshaw driver was a very smart man. He knew that we were compelled to use his cycle rikshaw service because of the agitations and quoted a high price of Rs.100. My dad bargained and got it down to a 50, which is also a relatively high price. After we reached home, my mom, out of sympathy gave him Rs.70. When my dad asked her why she did so, she said “Because he managed to drive 3 suitcases and 2 people on a cycle. I thought he deserved more than a 50.” I agreed with my mom. I mean, a tiny man with barely any fat managed to drive us all the way home without a single complaint. But my dad thought different. Can you guess why?

His logic is very much reasonable. If we did use an auto rikshaw, we would have reached home much earlier and in a much more comfortable manner. It is because of our emotions and feelings that we think that a cycle rikshaw driver deserves more as he puts in a more manual effort. We, as humans tend to believe that the more the effort, the more the outcome. But the skill… it goes unnoticed. For example, if a person comes to mend your lock, would you appreciate his work more if he completes the task in less time with not much effort (which means he is skillful) or if he takes time to complete the work and puts in a lot of effort? We don’t look at the outcome and decide the value on the basis of the process. Here, the process becomes the deciding factor. Not the outcome.

Well, some will agree with my mom who believes that manual work and effort are more valuable. And some with my dad, who believes that the outcome is more important than any effort. It’s up to you. You decide: Who deserves more, the auto rikshaw or the cycle rikshaw?

Why do we tend to like things we don’t do often?

The other day, my friend and I were talking about books. My friend also happens to be a writer, so we started discussing about our styles of writing, the styles of writing we like and so on. My friend is best at describing situations, places and environments, while I am most comfortable with describing thoughts, expressions and feelings. So we expected that we would like that kind of writing. But the interesting part is, we didn’t. She likes Rick Riordon (Writer of Percy Jackson) who is best at describing thoughts while I like J.K.Rowling (Writer of Harry Potter) who is best at describing environments. And either of us are not great at writing the kind of styles we read. This got me thinking. I thought about the same question the whole day:Why do we tend to like things we don’t do often?

Admit it. Most of us like watching cookery shows shot in foreign locations. And almost three quarters of the ingredients of those recipes are not found here. We still watch them eagerly with great interest. Why? We know we can’t cook those dishes anywhere near now. Then what’s the point? Why do things we can’t do seem so interesting?

These questions kept buzzing in my head until I finally thought I understood why it happens. It’s simple. Things we aren’t great at, intrigue us. They create a sense of anxiety and curiosity inside us. They teach us things alien to us. Hence, we tend to like them.

My curiosity did not stop at that. After I made the conclusion of why we like things we can’t do, I thought deeper into the matter. So if we like things we can’t do, what about those we can do and are good at? Do we forget those? I realized that most people do. I don’t seem to remember the last book I read, where the thoughts are more important than the environment. And I bet there are millions of people out there who forgot their roots, thanks to their curiosity. That’s why it is extremely important to always take some time to do things we are known for and are good at

I am not saying that being curious is wrong. Being curious and wanting to know more is totally human. But, I’m saying that remember where we come from. Always understand that doing what you do is what defines you. Be curious. Be interested. But remember to always be you.