Learning

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Sitting beneath the roots of trees, it occurred to me: I am never who I used to be. I cannot be defined as the boy I once was – I am a whole new me. Only memories connect me to my former selves – and in that capacity memories prick like a crown of thorns.

This illusory life I left behind years ago has come back to haunt my solitary peace. To those around me I am nothing more than that selfish creature who bore my name, my skin. They see me purely as the boy who incessantly abused and desired, who knew little but created mountains out of his molehill.

I am not him.

Hill

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The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.

 

Love is an attraction – the oxygen of oxygen.

Hate attaches – onto fear, it latches.

And indifference is an independent being.

 

I live on that intersection – a living contradiction – and though this body will one day die.

Death isn’t a dead end – it starts other beginnings. I’ll just become another intersecting life.

Boro Asha

Dimma

This world is full of misunderstood people. Tributes lay endlessly at their side, for their fathers and husbands, their children and siblings – but real iron-clad humanity gets lost in their magnanimity. My grandmother is one such woman. She was born at the peak of her father’s career. Her parents died when she was eight; raised by less loving relatives, hers is the Cinderella story of Kolkata.

Despite hardships, despite daily chores, despite being a woman born before World War II, she finished college. She married my grandfather after graduating and mothered four children. She raised them firmly but with a kind of love I have never otherwise seen. Alongside, she tended to her husband, his career and meteoric rise from a corporate executive to the chairman of India’s jute corporation.

She sacrificed her aspirations and devoted her life to his dreams and their children. In midlife she suffered the unimaginable trauma of losing her only son. Still, she continued relentlessly, pouring her love and devotion into her three girls. With her husband constantly out of the country on business, she single-handedly raised them. Today her legacy speaks in the chamber of the Indian Parliament; another proudly discusses her vanguard dissertation on urban gentrification.

Through all this Dimma has always taken the back seat. She has always hidden from the limelight – except for her harsh and abrasive exterior that continues to famously terrorize Kolkata’s police force, no one has seen and nor has anyone spoken of her endless bounty – her unconditional love and devotion.

I am lucky to be her grandson. I am fortunate to be under the shadow of a Bodhi tree so expansive, its breadth cannot be seen, nor understood. No matter where I have lived in the last thirty years, I have felt the blessing of her love – it cannot be escaped, nor seen; but I feel it as surely as the ocean’s breeze.

She has been there through it all, for us all, doing everything for what she loves most – her family.

I am lucky.

 

Chant Peace

Peace

I ask myself why

Barbarity has passed the sky

At first I find no answer

Only body of a young dancer.

I ask myself why

A soldier would kill a child

I am always confounded

No reason I feel is rounded.

Then I look within myself

At my anger, rage and hate

And in the midst of these

I find the killer of peace.

But I refuse to let this be

My legacy is hatred, I see

So I begin chanting peace

Under my breath, into the breeze.

I ask myself why

My brother, my sister, your child.

Ask yourself.

Interim II – Reposted

Dedicated to victims of gun-violence and terrorism

 

12.15 – Christmas Mourning

Today will be a sad day.   An ominous morning-after begins with raindrops against a rising sun; divine mother sobs at the snatching of life – in it she finds no meaning. Barren tree-branches darken against a pallid sky and thoughts of a merry Christmas become a distant memory. There will be no tree this year.

Celebrations will not mark the beginning of next year; it will be a Christmas of reflection and grief, pain and love; it will tell volumes about the strength of this nation’s fabric. December 14th, 2012 has changed us again, forever. Let this loss not be forgotten; let it sprout giants of a peaceful social paradigm.

 

12.24 – Gloria

Courage and cowardice, side by side.

A fine line divides full faith and a lie.

Betrayal of brothers, Iscariot’s tale;

Life’s that horizon amid heaven and hell.

What good is possible must always be done.

What killing’s avoidable, severely shunned.

Selfishness abandoned, your charity peaks;

Diversity emboldens communal leaps.

 

1.30 – The Perfect Angel

Beautiful can be haunting; within perfection lurks an eerie unnaturalness. It feels like velvet on your tongue – it feels like fire inside your eyes, as if you are looking into the sun. Yes, pure beauty is horrifying, at least – it reminds me of the silence before storms.

I was self-concerned, so absorbed with things I could touch, things others would readily covet. Judgment riddled me and I could not see the coming of the most catastrophic disasters. But now it is clear; in the temptation of perfection lives the Devil.

 

2.14 – The Beekeeper

The utility of medicine is to the human engine as oil is to a lamp. It is not that without it nothing would run; though, it would rust, grind, crack, break and eventually die – reduced to dust, by fire or time. But in that sense, why grease the machine at all? It all gets consumed, reduced and resumed – infinitely.

In this moment, we see time stretch – if it all cycles back infinitely, a moment can be a lifetime; an atom, the universe. I can have lived a millions lives in a moment or none at all, trapped, hidden, and closeted. The utility of medicine or oil or food or stars, therefore, is to allow existence to be – free, unrestricted and well-lubed.

 

4.18 – Martin

I would have expressed something to someone – but my mind had been splintered with ball bearings and nails. Numbness then overcame me; I now keep fishing for that feeling I had twelve years ago – I want to be enraged, ready for war on culprits. Yet something has severed that rationale.

I am beginning to realize that terror has no place in me – an initial fear is my animalistic response; but it fades, quicker and quicker with each atrocity. What has taken its place is a brazen courage to withstand violence to a level that confounds sadists seeking heaven with a barter of innocent lives.

I would have written something more somber – but my mind only felt a short-lived pain, eclipsed by the love of strangers. Yet, the pain three less lives can bring is limitless; as if atoms from my skin had been snatched from me without consent. So I write just this: no more hurting people.

 

5.17 – Gold

I have everything I need, except money; in a way, I live in an entirely different universe.

A few months ago, I let go of worry because I figured all it would do is make life scary.

Ironic, I was born with a golden spoon in my mouth; it took me longer than most to start talking.

And now at the turn of my third decade, all I have left are my words – in a world all about money.

My Nuna taught me that money means little; living happy comes only from seeing that joy everywhere.

She spent the last twenty-five years of her life in my service, my brother after me, my father – and me.

On my tenth birthday she took me up to the third floor of our house and handed me a gold neck-chain.

She had been saving for years, just for that day; I do not know where that chain went – I want it back.

 

5.21 – Land of Mirrors

What you take from me will not sustain you; what I have left, though, will suffice for the rest of my life in this universe. This was a battle, a test where you lose – overcome by greed and self-importance, you are lost. What you have that is mine will decay as fruit on a dead vine – you will find no comfort in my wine.

Those days leave with you, when I had faith in the hearts of men – it is only my soliloquy, my fingers, my mind that I need. Within me I am both nothing and everything; I do what my conscience dictates. I am no longer swayed by leaps of hope and prefabricated social utopias – even in margins, a status quo grows.

So today, I affirm I have no home and every ounce of me lives to convey – to you – what my mind dictates. Every droplet of knowledge, I consolidate within my words, my scribbles with pens and pencils, ink and dye. And if a degree informs me even a scintilla, it influences my life’s work in leaps and bounds.

There is nothing about my past, present or future that is anything but what I say I am at this moment. I am a culmination of everything I have experienced; I cannot weigh the value of my knowledge on the scale of a degree created by arbitrary rules, guarded by blind dogs of justiciable retribution.

So take from me what you will; I will not let you have my soul. Give me your doubts and burdens; I will not cower under the weight. As you were my strongest suit, you are now my last mistake; a heart will no longer beat where you will inevitably expect – there you will find a barren land of mirrors.

 

6.27 – Space

I imagine my existence much like an ever-expanding Space. I inhale, quite literally at first; then more gradual, more intellectual. The fibers defining my limits must stretch evenly across, or else I explode, unbalanced in my positives and negatives. I am just a mathematical calculation, to the nanoest inch.

Are we so very different after all? I cannot tell. We celebrate approximately the same holidays, similar mythologies, and replicated genetics; how do we differ then? In what universe is our composition other, other than within our minds?   The darkest prison, the cruelest trap – our minds; walls self-constructed.

Part of me lives in the moment; other parts float in the cosmos, intermingling with my atomic kin. There are parts of me somewhere in another galaxy; like a dream, in a psychedelic fantasy of smiles, sorrows and tragedies. And then I hit a wall, stub my toe on a dislodged cobble; I am reminded of my physicality.

 

8.6 – Barter of Souls

We have been put on this earth to restore the grandeur of our most beautiful eco-systems. Intelligent design is the universe’s last hope; dinosaurs and old oaks have disappeared – elephants inch closer with an increase in our barbaric demand for ivory. This must be stopped, lest the universe will tear apart.

The human mind is unlike any other earthly organism – then why have we stopped asking why we are here? For, from scientists to the pope, every intellectual principle has a purpose, a cosmic duty. Why have we stopped exploring the purpose of humanity? Within this purpose lies the liberation of society.

The end of existence is not a myth; all that lives must also die – when that may happen depends entirely on the human race. Our devouring nature has destabilized the order of nature – glaciers have melted, forests lay buried, or mowed over for ‘civilized’ development. If monkeys live in trees, why can’t we?

The day will come sooner than we think – the shorelines will rise up to living rooms and mezzanine restaurants. Warning shots keep firing but our internal, introverted universes keep revolving around the smallest of things – money, prejudgment, hatred, violence, intolerance – without any worry of the end.

But it is coming – a day when our worlds will no longer be defined by the rules that divide us today. This day, when cries of billions sound out to the heavens for mercy, God will rise from the peaks of hills for the final dance. Coin will have no worth – with personal identity, the weight of our souls, we will barter.

 

10.7 – Futile Judge

Knowledge is a lightning bolt – misdirected, it dehydrates and destroys that which it touches. Ignorance is a mindless bliss – add some misunderstood knowledge and a demon comes alive. Misunderstandings create weak links, turning morality into terrorism – love to nothingness. Sacred and profane are then created – in the same mass, divergent identities coexist and collide. Interestingly, such is existence – to inhabit the same space, yet be entirely antithetical to oneself. Paradoxes and contradictions riddle the cosmos down to its fundamentals; entropy, striving for more. To distinguish based on misunderstood knowledge – to judge – cannot function without failure. Judgment based on morality cannot function – it builds ladders and plows no fields. For judgment separates a coexistence, it eventually becomes futile.

 

10.27 – Brownies

I try my best to be punctual; twice a day, especially, when the clock’s hands meet facing south-east.

Sometimes the moment lasts so much longer – I leap over thoughts, jot them down, cross them out.

In just those two moments; and before bed, to soothe; to start my day, to wake – I bake.

10.27 – Lotus

Wisdom is the essence of humanity; thrown around, its utilitarian purpose frustrated, eaten by crows and sparrows, very little value remains. Observe; advise only those who seek your light. Let the rest of the universe coast, like raindrops on lotus leaves.

 

10.27 – Lament

I cannot help but feel loved – but it’s complicated. It’s not a matter of doubt, just exaggerated.

The pendulum slices quietly – it is amputated. It is not a matter of death, just incarcerated.

I cannot help but feel loved – but its burden hunches my back; life, a suffering, elongated.

10.27 – Trichotomous

By nature, a human parent bears a heavier burden than any other creature to safeguard the well-being of its offspring. Human responsibility goes further than any other form of organic life because we are gifted with wisdom – intelligent design compels us to be more considerate; a generous steward.

 

10.28 – Luck

Nudging is better than pushing; a neck, better than the head. The mother pushes on instinct; in subtle ways, she says, ideas flare. At first, with one lucky strike; a spark from two clashing stones – over a pile of parched life, the flashes dance, casting out its fishing hooks for one dried filament to catch a flame.

 

10.28 – Sandalwood

Do you see the fire on the hilltop? Do you see the opaque smoke rising? With hints and peeks of a blaze – red robins fly over your head – do you see? Mockingbirds cry and brave men cower – their nests left lit in fire. There is no light, no blessing of God – only this ash descending from the pouring sky.

 

11.7 – Thanksgiving

The harvest moon rises; the sun, lazy across the auburn sky. Pumpkin patches and burning leaves; trees turn into fall’s kaleidoscope. Colors of fire, from yellow to sienna to a translucent red – oaks and maples play with their changing shades, dancing to an autumnal breeze, with shadows and sunlight.

 

11.8 – Vote Responsibly

Nuna voted in every single election; other than Christmas, Election Day was her only other ‘vacation-time.’ She was illiterate and did not know how to write her name – she always returned home with ink-stains on her thumb, proudly touting how she voted and I absolutely should exercise that right one day.

So I have voted in every election since I have been able. Not just to obey her edict but also to do the integral duty of an active citizen. Voting is the culmination of every ounce of energy a said person invests in the well-being of society – it is participating in the construction of a more perfect union.

When I leave the voting station, I feel lighter; as if I have left something behind. All my hopes for this great nation and the well-being of this world rest on the ink-bits that etch my name. My energy centers consolidated, my vote echoes my spirit – a peaceful, prosperous and honest future.

 

Where?

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If you ask me where I am from, you must love long stories – I do not have one answer; I do not know how I can begin finding that answer. I am cursed, I feel sometimes. Just as soon as I call a place home, circumstances force me to leave it behind. I should feel nothing after my umpteenth relocation; but I do.

I am just as bewildered every time. I recreate my sense of belonging – like a chameleon, I change my colors to escape something and become something else. Each time I am left with an emptiness in place of my answer to the ‘where am I from’ question – nowhere, everywhere, somewhere, anywhere.

You know me

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I am a selfish being – I want. My desires have no end – it flows incessantly, one thing after another.

I say I want nothing, but I lie – in fact, I want to rule this world; not govern, not serve – I want to rule.

I am a hypocrite but I hate that word – I am, by nature, illogical; but I thrive on misplaced logic.

No matter how much I try a selfless life, I gather material things; I have this ravenous appetite.

What am I?

For Posterity

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Let the people of this world rise – against injustice, selfish pride.

 

For a peace far gone and lost, pierce the veil of violence, accost.

 

Let rivers of blood be washed – with tears of suffering, be crossed.

 

For humanity’s one last hope is innocence repaired, invoked.

 

Rise, Rise, Rise – your own hatred, despise. Forget vengeance – forgive; remind yourself of peace.

 

Dadu

Dadu

Rain drops splattered on red dirt this morning as the abode of peace paid homage to its most beloved teacher, father and friend. I grew up playing in his courtyard as he gazed with a smile that I will never forget. My heart wrenched intermittently at the absence of his laughter. But I was reminded of his omnipresence. He was everywhere – in the leaves and buildings; deep-seethed into fond memories.

He is not gone; he has just become one with the majesty of that which he most adored – Shantiniketan.