(A) Man’s (Poetic) Search for Meaning

“Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man :
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain, —
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a reed with the reeds in the river.”
A Musical Instrument, Elizabeth Barett Browning
 
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Well, Now I am!

 

It’s been quite some time since I have written anything. Long enough for some people to question if my writing skills were dead, or for some even to ask if I was dead.

Its been a tough few months, and honestly, my willpower and ability to write have been in a downward spiral. As I write this post, there still remains a lingering that this too will be consigned to the darkness of the folder called “Unpublished Drafts”. Frankly speaking, what spurred this post was a late night jaunt into the world of Messrs Shelley, Browning and Whitman and a conversation with a friend at a wedding who asked me to start writing again.

I’ve always been fond of Poetry, the credit to which belongs to one of my teachers back in Class 9, and a textbook called ‘Wings of Poesy’. Those pages were my introduction to fantastic work such as the Forsaken Merman by Matthew Arnold, The Eve of Waterloo by Lord Byron, Ozymandius by Percy Bysse Shelley and my favourite, A Musical Instrument by Elizabeth Browning.

I still remember, one of the first poems I memorized was The Brook by Alfred Tennyson. A poem that I learnt as a rhyme, it gave me a comforting image of a flowing brook going past my house at night, slowly putting me to sleep.

Sleeping has been difficult over the last few months, so much that I’ve been listening to white noise for hours on youtube in the hopes of falling into sleep. Predictably, the sounds that I choose to hear are that of a flowing river or a brook, because it comforts me and lulls me into a false sense of security that’s often broken by rays of sunshine entering the window in the morning.

So, why have I quoted Elizabeth Barett Browning at the start of the post? Well, simply put, I feel like the Reed that Great God Pan moulded into a musical instrument. A reed that grows nevermore again, as a reed with the reeds in the river.

It’s a beautiful poem about making of a musical instrument. I tend to look at it as the shaping of life and destiny. A Life that’s been punctuated with more disappointment than achievements, more sorrow than joy and more hate than love, a life that’s still to make the music that the great God Pan envisaged when he carved out the musical instrument from the reeds in the river.

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I Want to break free!

Mysore has been difficult for the last Year and a half. The four walls I call home are also the four walls that seem to be closing on me, all the time. So, as you’d have noticed in my previous blog posts, when the going gets tough, I turn to books, in the hope of finding some joy, some fear and even some magic. Recently, I finished reading a fantastic book by Viktor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning”. His work is based on his survival in Auschwitz. Frankl’s work formed a cornerstone of Psychotherapeutic Treatment, and how do people go through difficult phases of their lives in a quest of finding some meaning in the overall scheme of things, and in life. I’ve somehow found the study of grief fascinating as well. Maybe my morbid thoughts also have to do with the kind of stuff I’ve been reading of late, but things that do not explore the darker side of the human psyche rarely make good writing.

The darkness in us is not only confined to poems and books, but in games too, with this clip from The Last of Us probably being the only bit in a game that’s almost brought tears to my eyes.

People generally know about the Five Stages of Grief as researched by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, arising from her work with terminally ill patients in the 60s. From Denial (“No, this can’t be happening to me!”) to Anger (“Why me? What have I done wrong?”), to Bargaining (“If I stop drinking so much, my relationship will mend itself!) to Depression (“I cant do this anymore, so why bother?) and finally to Acceptance (“Whatever happens, It’s going to be Okay”), this model speaks about what people go through when losing a loved one, coming out of a difficult relationship, or simply, dying. It’s so surprising as to how something as complex as Human emotion can be broken down into five stages, and dissected to be studied like an experiment. How being human isn’t about individualism, but about being just the sum of a few parts.

So, coming back to Elizabeth Browning and the great God Pan, its just that life changes you in ways that are unimaginable, and as we see people change in front of us, I’m left to miss the wonderful people I knew, and their imposters that I come across these days.

But all said and done, maybe its time this blog comes back to life. To wind this up, I’ll leave you with a few words by Pink Floyd (and the song, if you wanna hear it!)

 

“I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life”

Three Books, Three Stories, Three Experiences

Its been a tough few weeks, walking out of college with a feeling that there aren’t going to be too many opportunities for all of us to meet together, again, for a very long time.

But then, the convocation is coming up, so life should be good, right? That’s what I hope, anyway.

So, I’ve moved to the next best thing, Books. I have an extensive collection of books, and these few books have made a long boring holiday, worth something. Everyday, as I settle into a long bus journey to my NGO, a good book makes the one and a half hour journey seem very short.

A book I’d been avoiding reading completely for a very long time was the Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a book, that the author says was inspired by a patient’s question. “I was having a conversation with a patient who had stomach cancer,” he recalled, “and she said, ‘I’m willing to go on fighting, but I need to know what it is that I’m battling.’ It was an embarrassing moment. I couldn’t answer her, and I couldn’t point her to a book that would.

Truly, the Emperor of All Maladies

Truly, the Emperor of All Maladies (The disease, not the man!)

 

As I delved deeper into the book (with true determination), I absolutely couldn’t think of what it would be like to be an oncologist and see a lot of patients fight a battle that if won, is always a Pyrrhic victory. In most cases, there isn’t a victory to be had, but an agonising defeat. Having lost a family member to cancer years back, my family does have first hand experience of what a beast caner can be, with its moody, volatile unpredictability. A treatment for cancer was born out of War itself, when in the Second World War, hundreds of Tonnes of mustard gas were released in the Bari Harbour in Italy. This gas decimated the white blood cells, leading pharmacologists thinking about using a similar chemical to kill cancer of the white blood cells. Chemotherapy, literally, was a product of war. In the end the disease wages a war on the body, and doctors, literally, nuke it in hopes of a victory. A sad, sad war, if there were ever one.


 

As I flew back to Delhi after spending almost 22 Months in Bombay, I was welcomed home with Mom’s homemade Chicken Biryani, and a book from my future employers, ITC Limited. They’d sent me George Orwell’s 1984, for leisure reading. Felt good to receive a good book, and it was fun, kickstarting this vacation with the same. When it comes to Orwell, I’ve read Animal Farm (partly because of its length), and seen John Hurt in 1984 as Winston Smith. The book drew a lot of parallels with present times, where Censor boards give us a list of acceptable words, the government controls what we eat, and private corporations, making a huge attempt to control what we use our smartphones for (#NetNeutrality?).

Napoleon and Snowball!

Napoleon and Snowball!

Speaking of Animal Farm, before I forget, how many of you think that Kejriwal is Napoleon, and Yogendra Yadav is Snowball? Very good metaphors to describe the state of the Aam Aadmi Party.


 

Coming back to books, another (and the last for this post!) book that’s been a wonder to read is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. An author (and a Nobel Laureate!), whose work caught my fancy in arguably the best lecture I’ve attended in TISS. A lecture on Prospect Theory in advanced compensation, it remains one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt at TISS.

The book is an anthology of Daniel Kahneman’s life of work, and the way he tells the story to us with believable anecdotes of his research with Amos Tversky, give a human touch to ears of his research. The anecdotes are real, and in a lot of cases, very funny. A fantastic and engaging read, this book (and rightly so) puts Daniel Kahneman head and shoulders above other writers who work on similar themes.

So, to wind up this filler vacation post, I’ll leave you with a simple thought.

“Luck plays a large role in every story of success; it is almost always easy to identify a small change in the story that would have turned a remarkable achievement into a mediocre outcome”

– Daniel Kahneman

Moral of the story? Always thank your stars!

 

Ishiguro’s Love

” When we are scattered, afar and asunder,
Parted are those, who are singing today
When we look back, and forgetfully wonder,
What we were like, in our learning and play
Oh, the great days, will bring distance enchanted,
Days of fresh air in the rain, and the sun
How we rejoiced as we struggled, and panted,
Echoes of dreamland, Hailsham lives on. “

–  Rachel Portman,  Never Let Me Go OST.

The lines above were not written by Ishiguro, but they are exactly like his writing. Because Ishiguro’s writings about love aren’t complex, but so simple, they’re heart rending and they’re funny and they’re inexplicably tragic.

A post by a friend on Social Media prompted me to open all my Ishiguro’s and give them a read. And somewhere between ‘When we were orphans’ and ‘The Remains of the Day’, this post was born.

For the uninitiated (Oh, poor soul you’ve missed out on life itself!), Kazuo Ishiguro is a Japanese-British Novelist, the winner of the Booker Prize in 1989 and the author of seven wonderful books, some of which I’m going to talk about today. Two of his books have been made into excellent movies, The Remains of The Day, by the fabled Merchant-Ivory productions, and Never Let Me go, by Mark Romanek.

The Remains of the next few months?

The Remains of the next few months?

Ishiguro’s writing style is unique. Instead of consciousness awakening to the natual world and its immediacy and immutable nature. subjective memories and thoughts are opened, in a way, layer by layer to expose consciousness. His writings are like ramblings that try to fill the wide chasm of existential angst that has opened up in a being, like a sinkhole, sucking everything, even you, into the vortex.

Ishiguro’s Love is the most pristine, pure and beautiful ever written. Man is often destroyed by the ideas upon which he has built his life. Sometimes, I think we are so occupied by the “greatness” we wish to achieve, and this notion breeds deep resentments for anything that comes in the path, and it is the inarticulacy of emotions that destroy love.

Ishiguro writes the most nightmarish novels I’ve ever read. I read these books the same way as I wake from a disturbing dream with feelings of disorientation and anxiety. Ishiguro says that love has a proper time, a time that may be lost or missied, and then, the rest of our lives we’ll spend wondering. what could have been. That’s  thought which is nightmarish and Ishiguro tells us this with simple sentences, from the words of Stevens, or Kathy H. Very few books can evoke the feeling of Despair. The kind of despair that makes you want t break things, or go out for a run so you can let out the agony bubbling inside you.

The Master Storyteller

The Master Storyteller

His books are about the near impossibility of our being understood by others and yet our endless desire for such understanding. His books are always written in the simplest of prose, but reading them isn’t easy. The beauty of his books is not in the plots, but in its execution.

I’m writing this post in the morning after having a vivid dream, which was very disturbing. It was my subconscious, watching me make all the wrong decisions I did, and all the mistakes I made and struggle helplessly, because the outcome of future events that would transpire were known. It never occurred to me that those people, with whom my life was interwoven, could unravel with such speed. If only I’d known, I’d have kept a tighter hold of them. Being in that dream was like being in an Ishiguro book. Descending down the flight of stairs where she told you, you weren’t the one, and resolutely walked ahead, her steps growing longer than yours till she was past the the horizon. Like those memories buried deep down, where people would sit on rooftops, hands together, their silhouettes drifting apart in dim light, and talk of there being the right time, the right place, the wait.

And then suddenly, when everything falls apart in front of you, you realize what Ishiguro’s Love is. This post is also a commentary to Meera & Vikram, two characters I frequently write about in different settings, two people, who are inexplicably, to their own misfortune, in Ishiguro’s love.

I’m very jobless these days, and this solitude I’ve grown to like. I like curling into a good book, and knowing I’ll have my daydreams, a cold breeze, and test cricket commentary for company.

Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

A longish conversation that I had yesterday is the where the Genesis of this post began. While not exactly about Harry Potter, it was a conversation that had me looking for comfort and solace, and thanks to e-books, I have all my comfort and solace hidden deep away in the writings of JKR. She’s probably the one single person, who’s made my lonely childhood come alive, with maps looking for horcruxes, theories about who RAB was, where did Grindelwald connect with all of the stories and why did they not chop Poor Nearly Headless Nick’s head off in its entirety. Every page written in those books have a sliver of hope. Hope that magically expands in your chest and fills you up with the thrill of adventure. Even the most boring boy who’d have read Harry Potter would never, ever say no to an adventure with the Weasey twins, would they?

'The boy whose life all of us would want to live'

‘The boy whose life all of us would want to live’

This post goes out to all the Harry Potter fans out there, and how, even after turning twenty-four, nothing can make me smile more than the visual image of Harry scooping up the snitch fluttering over that stupid ‘git’ Malfoy’s head. Ha. Or given me more shivers than Harry’s fear of fear itself. While I’ve written earlier about Harry Potter, I choose this post to write about How my life has been intertwined with Harry Potter’s, every single day of my teenage life. The title of the post for instance, were the first words Harry heard Albus Dumbledore say. I would give an arm and a leg to hear an old man with a long beard say these words to me.

Harry’s losses were massive. Losing parents, having a shit life, losing friends, but what Harry had, and I never did was unwavering loyalty. With Lupin and Sirius, Dumbledore and the Weasleys, people understood that their futures were intertwined with Harry’s destiny, and in some way, they became my friends too, with Oliver Wood being the kind of a captain I want on my team, and Professor McGonagall being the teacher who I’d always want to impress.

You know, how the strongest memories that you hold on to are those that shape you as a person? And the strongest memories are those that bring some semblance of constancy in you life? I think memories of me getting lost into the world of Charms and Spells, of Loving friends and life, of finding secret chambers, that’s what fantasy can be, and you wish life was. Come think of it, in the chapter about the Quidditch world cup, I’ve even mumbled ‘Troy-Mullet-Moran’ under my breath, cheering on the Irish seekers, while totlally empathizing with little Kevin whose mother bust his engorged slug. Or Aidan Lynch, the Irish seeker who was vanquished not once, but twice by Viktor Krum (Never liked the Bulgarians, anyway)

Happy memories, aren’t they?

There are so many things Harry Potter books can do to you. Lift gloom (albeit temporarily) from a shitty day, make you smile looking at pages and think of worlds where castles and moving staircases rule the roost. The world of Muggles really is boring, come think of it.

I started reading Harry Potter when the Chamber of Secrets had released, which meant I could read two books (Philosopher’s Stone) in quick succession, and the Prisoner of Azkaban didn’t take too long to come out. The waits after that were excruciating. With the Internet not as ever-present or evolved as today, fan groups were limited to mailing lists, where everyone would be sorted (I’ve generally been sorted into Ravenclaw, even on Pottermore, which breaks my heart, because people from Ravenclaw hardly did anything noteworthy in the series) , and then theories would pop up, about Severus being in league with Voldemort, Sirius Black actually coming back from the dead, and so on and so forth.

It wasn’t soon before I decided that the time had come to compete with JKR (inspite of my atrocious writing skills), and boring history classes at school came alive on the back pages of a Notebook, about how Harry and Hermione had vanquished Ron in a game of Wizard Chess, how Fred had come back to life (I cried like a baby when he died, as I idolized the twins. Still do). Fanfiction that I wish I’d preserved, for when life gets tough, then there are things in the past that make one smile.

I have a party to attend tonight, a celebration for my senior batch getting placed (or completing their N.E.W.Ts, if you want to continue the Potter analogies), and while I lack the enthusiasm to go to a party full of muggles, who knows, what mischief might be afoot?

“As (the door) swung closed behind them, Harry heard Phineas Nigellus’ voice. “You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on may counts … but you cannot deny he’s got style….”

Death and his friend.

(This is a short story written after a particularly vivid dream. While events have been dramatized for effect, and in some cases, due to lack of recollection, this is in essence, an experimental bit of writing. A special thanks to Navya Ahuja for rescuing my manuscript. Also, to clarify, I’m by no means a religious man, but the Bible, God and Angels make a good plot device.)

‘God told Abraham, he would not destroy Sodom if he could find ten righteous men. For me, I think it might just be one. I’m dying of Cancer Meera, and there isn’t much anyone can do about it, not even you’, said Vikram, when he reached Meera’s voicemail. Vikram was by no means a righteous man, but in these non-biblical times, who is?

Vikram and Meera are close to my heart, and have always been, simply because of the pure innocence hey live their lives with. When I was talking to my Archangel Gabriel about these two, we agreed that their story had our interest. It was a pity that Vikram had cancer, but there isn’t much I can do to keep someone who has a death wish, alive.

But do not let my divinity take away what is essentially the story of two people who gave it their all, inspite of being terrified at every step of their existence. Inspite of what was happening, I did want their story to end. Not without the conclusion I’d want it to take. And hence, I called Michael, my angel of death to go to earth, and make this tale reach an end I’d appreciate.

Vikram was standing on a ledge of a high-rise on Barakhamba road. After cutting Meera’s call, Vikram looked out to the fall he’d take in a few seconds. But then he saw Michael, and the angel of death was not angelic to say the least. No wings, just a smile. Michael called out to Vikram, and Vikram stepped off the ledge, knowing it wasn’t time, yet.

Michael told Vikram at the Starbucks at Connaught place that there were divine forces that wanted him not to die. At least not now, and Michael would stay with him till his purpose was not fulfilled. Michael cryptically said, ‘I’ll quote my good friend Matthew to you. He was one of my favourites, and so are these words. Blessed are the poor in spirit : For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are they that mourn : For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek : For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the pure in heart : For they shall see God’, And suddenly Michael drained the piping hot coffee in a go, and walked out into the wintry night.

Vikram cursed Michael, and cursed the pain surging through his body. Successive sessions of Chemotherapy and radiation treatment had ravaged his once handsome frame, making him look gaunt, scary and listless. He wanted everything to end, and Meera’s life to have lesser misery. Once he was gone, she’d move on, be better and find a life.

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit : For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Vikram never stepped inside the ward for the terminally ill. Until now. The peace and calm was unlike anything he’d come to expect. All he could hear was the beeping of monitors punctuating the silence of certain death. ‘Damn you Michael, what have all of these people done?’ he muttered under his breath. This wasn’t a ward for the affluent, but a charitable ward, often serving as a ore comfortable place where people could die, being cared for. Vikram shared their fate, but not their poverty. The poverty that had ravaged their soul, making sure that it did not exist.

Vikram walked upto a young girl. She couldn’t have been more than nine, and he could see her red eyes, eyes that had run dry of tears and a sad smile, which had the realization of inevitability. Inevitability that had taken her innocence away.

Vikram stopped to talk to her, but she turned away, struggling to stop the tears which wouldn’t flow. ‘My mother’, she whispered ‘has a few hours left. They say they can’t save her. My father died when I was young and now Mama is going away too’ Vikram was speechless, but he didn’t comfort her. He just wanted to understand her pain, and he, for some reason, never could.

Her name was Naina, and hers was the Kingdom of Heaven. She died a few months later on the streets of Delhi in the freezing cold.

‘Blessed are the meek : For they shall inherit the earth’

Michael had made sure that doors would open whenever Vikram wanted. Vikram chose to walk into a detention centre for Juvenile Criminals, where all the cells were crowded together, trying to absolve themselves of the sins of youth. If you could call it that.

Abbas had found a small corner for himself in this centre, where he would study his math books, trying to learn Euclid’s Axioms and the theorems of Pythagoras. A benevolent administrator had given him his son’s old books to study. Vikram observed that he was struggling with Direct and Indirect Tangents, and decided to help him out, drawing them and explaining the properties. Abbas smiled at the unexpected visitor, his eyes full of hope and optimism. He said he was a month away from release, and after they shut him in during the riots, he was determined to go back and make a name for himself. Make his dead parents proud. He’d been detained for stealing two fishes five breads for his starving sister in the Muzaffarnagar Riots.

Abbas would go on to become a famous mathematician, and win the Fields medal. From a meek and persecuted boy, Abbas Ahmed Khan inherited the earth.

‘Blessed are they that mourn : For they shall be comforted’

Vikram had bumped into Michael in the morning, to collect an envelope, and something told him he’d be seeing Michael for the last time at the end of the day. Vikram was on his way to meet the widow of the slain IPS officer who’d died protecting his city in the 26/11 attacks. She’d fought the system, the people, the administration to get her rights. Instead of lighting his funeral pyre, filling forms to get his retirals and social security had gained more importance.

Sanjana had become numb seeing her mother live through death everyday. Till when could they fight? Till when could they not mourn. Sanjana snapped out of her reverie and noticed Vikram walking towards her. Within moments, he was right next to her handing her an envelope. She quietly opened the envelope, because a voice inside her head told her it was what she’d been looking for.

The envelope had a letter of thanks, signed by all of the survivors of that day. The colour from Sanjana’s face drained her eyes turned Red. And then, as Vikram patted her shoulder, as if on cue, the tears started streaming down Sanjana’s cheeks and she could finally feel her deathly loss. The hole it had burnt in her heart would never make her feel the same again, but the letter (the ink on which was getting washed away by her tears) made her feel at peace. Calm.

After years of suffering, pain and finally mourning, Vikram brought to Sanjana what no one could. Comfort.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart : For they shall see God’

Vikram had seen Michael following a few steps behind, indicating that there wasn’t a lot of time left.

Vikram sat down on a bench in front of a store in Greater Kailash, watching Meera pick out clothes. Michael came down and sat down next to him, saying ‘You know, I can give you some more time. I fight with my friend for mankind all the time, and you’re no different. Actually, you’re way more different than you think. You deserve some time with her, really’

Vikram’s face showed that he was tempted. Tempted to ask for more time, tempted to spend time with Meera. Tempted not to die. But then as he saw Meera smiling in the shop, realization dawned and he realized that he couldn’t. Meera had loved him, but Vikram had run away. And he wasn’t going to come back. Even if he wanted to.

Vikram looked at Michael and said, ‘I think I’ve had the best two days of my life. ‘ At moments like these, your life flashes before your eyes. Meera at Leopold, Meera at the Grocery Store, Meera on Marine Drive, Meera at home, Meera smiling, Meera laughing. All of it was the distant past. He couldn’t go back to it. not anymore.

As his vision faded to Black with Meera’s images in his eyes, he saw God, for these two days had purified his heart.

‘Heaven holds the faithful departed’

Two Things.

Purgatory and Paradise.

‘Spiral path leads through the maze
Down into the fiery underworld below
Fire breathing, lead the way
Lucifer was just an angel led astray’    

Fact of life? There’s a good and a bad in everyone? If Angels can be led astray, aren’t we mere mortals? I was reading a beautifully written book by Manu Joseph titled ‘The Illicit Happiness of Other People’ which says that ages back, there was a war between good and evil, and good suffered a humiliating, complete, absolute defeat. Evil being, well, evil, split itself into two parts, evil and apparently good. Fair argument I’d say. There is no absolute good in the world anymore, with people giving into what is good for themselves, or what is good for society. But there’s always a loser, a victim, a disappointed man. For people like these, descending into the fiery underworld is not difficult at all. The Spiral paths, the mazes all clear up. Because the road to evil is not tough, its easy. It is Paradise that’s hard to find, and everyone must pass through Purgatory before that.

In search of Paradise

In search of Paradise

I have days when things get unbearably hard, or unbearably easy. Last night, a friend jokingly pointed out my lack of social interaction. While I’m sure she meant it as a joke, it made me introspect a lot of decisions I’ve taken in life, and all of them have been about running away from people, not talking about what’s in my head, and simply put, not forging those strong friendships or relationships.  Introspection is playing your own devil’s advocate, and its not easy. However, there’s always hope, for after Purgatory, there is paradise.

Rebecca, a haunting tale about  lady who faced her own demons.

Rebecca, a haunting tale about lady who faced her own demons.

For someone who spent a lot of his childhood growing up alone, I’ve found a lot of meaning in music, literature and movies. I’ve always written about love as a theme on this blog, because my notion of love is shaped from these. Bruce Willis dying to save the planet his daughter lives on (Armageddon), The fascination of Walter Mitty and his adventures (The Secret life of Walter Mitty), the craziness of the Manderley estate in Rebecca’s tale (Rebecca) or the brilliance of Atticus Finch (To kill a Mockingbird), these have all shaped me up into the person I am, in some way or another. Though I did get screamed at by Dad for reading Nabokov’s ‘Lotlita’ in my quest to apply meaning to life, I  have had some great experiences while reading. I immerse myself in the situation, such that the girl I have a crush on becomes Jamie while I see myself as Landon. Its a beautiful experience, the ability to see patterns in real life, the smiling to yourself at something endearing someone does, the walking alone humming songs by John Mayer while your insides jump with joy.

‘Who says I can’t be free
From all of the things that I used to be?
Rewrite my history
Who says I can’t be free?’

Everybody Dies.

Everybody Dies.

But then, there’s a catch. There’s a simple underlying philosophy to life, that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy. This is further reinforced by Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of Dr. Gregory House, where he simply says, ‘Everybody Lies’ and ‘Everybody Dies’, simply reinforcing Richard Yates’ thoughts from his masterpiece, Revolutionary Road. I’ve mentioned in a couple of my earlier posts how I find the movie ‘Love Actually’ one of the finest romantic movies ever, because it has this same theme of loneliness running though it.

I’ve been told that the Insides of my head are scary, but then, the demons are mine to face, and the purgatory is mine to trudge through, for the paradise is mine to find.

‘Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide’

May the odds ever be in ‘our’ favour

I just finished reading Suzanne Collins’ ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy, and in spite of being a book meant for young adults with simple language, the political messages it carries are profound. Love, Power and rebellion, all set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world. Instant recipe for success, I’d say.

Very aptly titled, ‘The Hunger Games’, the book throws up a lot of questions we need to ask ourselves as a nation. With an ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor, the privileged having their own elite circles, the poor starving for food, and a government whose focus is spent on ensuring its own survival, we’re no different from Panem, our leaders no more different from Coriolanus Snow. Who knows, the day is not very far when we all descend into an arena, and fight for our survival, while the bourgeoisie classes sit and watch a spectacle they’ve created. This time, we celebrate 67 years of  India’s Independence, not with joy, but with growing unease, with that sinking feeling, with more questions than answers. With slowing growth, mammoth scams, neurotic politicians, we have weaved a tangled web we can’t escape anymore.

Our own Mockinjays?

Our own Mockinjays?

Before being reaped for the  games, what was Katniss Everdeen? A simple girl, hunting and fighting for survival. Never the clear favorite in the games, her victory was the victory of courage, fortitude and the power of love. All of us need to realize that the world we live in is not kind anymore, but instead of caving in, we’ve to harden our exteriors. There’s a Katniss Everdeen in everyone of us, and I hope she’s reaped soon. Because time’s running out, and the odds are not in our favour anymore.

Are they truly in our favour?

Are they truly in our favour?

In Katniss’ words :

‘What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to rill in and die for their entertainment?’

A lot of people ask me why I’m so attached to Literary characters. If you’ve given my post a fair read (and have seen / read the Hunger Games), I assume you’ll find the answer to that  question right there. Why do citizens of the capitol wish the tributes with the phrase, ‘May the Odds ever be in your favour?’  The reason is simple enough, the Capitol, or in our case, the privileged have never been a part of our struggles. There’s no use of the word ‘our‘, there’s always a ‘your‘. That’s where the difference lies. The alienation of the deprived is what the privileged thrives upon today. People have moved back to gated communities, elite social circles and settings where propriety of feedbacks take precedence over their genuine nature.

At the end of the day, I choose to leave this question open to you : Are the odds truly in our favour, or their favour? And I also have one more small request. When you switch on your television sets, when you open news apps on your smartphones, don’t just sit back and watch the world burn. Either burn theirs, or save ours.

‘My sins are many, my guilt is too heavy
The pressure of knowing, of having what I know
I’m able to see things, things I don’t want to see
The lives of a thousand souls, weighing down on me’