A Tryst With Your Destiny

Time froze and my heart skipped a beat or two.

The wind blew and

The skies rumbled.

As I saw God’s perfect creation; His masterpiece.

 

Her golden hair flowing carelessly with the breeze,

Her rosy cheeks awaiting a warm touch of affection

Lost in the mystifying cosmos of her beautiful eyes,

Thinking could such a thing even exist amidst such despise.

 

As I drew nearer,

She went farther away.

Perhaps it was the distance I could not travel

Or a mystery I could never unravel.

 

Long nights, miserable days

Lonely dawns, cheerless dusks.

And that’s all there was to say,

Because all I ever wished for,

Was a tryst with your destiny.

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Middle Class

I think there are a somethings I take too lightly

 

The luxury of ambition
The audacity to dream
The certainty of tomorrow
A life  in peace
A whole plate, a whole home
A whole family, a whole world
Not riven by another man’s war

 

I think I there are somethings, I take too lightly

THE BALLAD OF THE PERFECT QUEEN

Mighty of the mightiest

Feisty of the feistiest

A Queen, of a great country

Known to heavens and beyond

 

There was no match for her

Nor in skill nor in cunning

Her guile was legendary

She gave meaning to her subjects’ habit

Of reciting meaningless royal praises

For there was no title

Her Most Marvellous Majesty didn’t live up to

 

The great Queen oversaw a great many wars

Outnumbered, but never outwitted

She won every time

Armed with armies of goats in human form

Baiting, upon her command

Ferociously foolish tigers

That she shot down

From high above and far behind

 

Her presence was everywhere

But nowhere twice

And like Midas, magical

Her Magnificent Majesty sought and secured

A satisfying perfection

Over the Kingdom of Saol

 

She was wildly loved

And brutally obeyed

So was naturally prey to power

And immune to impossibility

 

Yet the only thing that she couldn’t do

Was edify, enlighten and educate

Her idyllic, insipid and idiot subjects

To her standards of satisfaction

 

All the years of watching

The inept men of her blood

Bleed themselves, and the realm

She knew the only way to greater glory

Was to get control, and keep it close

 

She could trust only her Vazir

Hired after strictest of selections

To test the ability of servility

From that moment on, it was always

Vazir and the rest

 

For nothing could find her higher ire

Other than a moment she hadn’t planned

She crossed the ‘t’s and dotted the ‘i’s

Dare anyone stop to wonder why

 

Plants stunted the reach of their branches

As more animate mortals

Concealed their breaches

As everything and everyone had a plan

To which their actions must obey

 

Newborn babies cooed over crying

Pioneers just did it over trying

Yet, no one knew what they were buying

The aim was to be perfect,

Or whatever the Queen thought was correct

 

Her people had fairly traded

Free will for free food

Freedom for fear and

Pioneers for parrots

 

 

Like most nights

Her Mighty Majesty lay in fragile sleep

Helplessly seeing with her eyes closed

An activist artist

Painting a painting she didn’t commission

Of her face illegally skewed

Beyond beauty and tolerance

 

She shot awake

Both with a fear and an idea

She could not let a few

Destroy all that was due

Good for SAOL, she knew what to do

 

She summoned the master mason’s morning

To begin building a tower

In royal colours of black and white

Close to the throne

But high into the clouds

 

So she could keep an eye

Her vigilant eye, on everyone and everything

And save her world

Before she lost it to perverts and politicians

 

On a day scheduled

She proceeded, to the dread

Of every hand that was ever raised

To build Her Mind-blowing Majesty’s tower

 

She went about the length and breadth and

Width and weight of her dream tower

Testing the waning competence

Of her workers in doing, only what they were told.

 

 

Sufficiently satisfied,

She began to scale the granite stairs winding up

To the kingdom of clouds

 

Perhaps too quickly

But not as much

To miss a stone, too rawly cut

Decorating the crown

Upon the head of a dead tiger

Raw enough to bruise royal moral fibre

 

She quickly turned around but

Lost her balance on another sliver, not in place

And began her journey back to the ground

Just not as planned

 

Head first and feet in the air, as usual

On blunt stairs of stone

Her great head

Wound open,

Loudly unleashing most of what was within, unasked

 

Seeing the blood and brains

Flowing in directions untold

The Vazir and the rest

Shuddered at what the Queen might say

 

Unable to move without command

The wazir and the rest,

Stood watching the blood and brains

Measuring the stone floor

Perhaps for another crevice unwelcomed

 

Wondering, when the brain may regain

The command of its lips

And scold them over their failure

To follow a simple colour code

Of black and white

Right and wrong.

And they stood frozen till the end of their time

And so did time, in obliged courtesy

Long did she reign, and well too

But everyone was petrified

To continue without her command

Her love and legacy are no longer in demand

Why Happiness Should NOT Be the Goal of Life

I’ve dwelled, quite vociferously so, on the other side of the debate for as long as I can remember and made this profound change in my worldview quite recently (hopefully, in time). I credit this edification to two amazing books, Brave New World (Huxley) and When Breath Becomes Air (Kalinithi), while for my discarded beliefs I blame pretty much every mainstream narrative that I consumed as a gullible teen because the status quo asserts that happiness is the goal of life. However, my question is whether it should be?

 

I don’t advocate a life of abstinence or even denounce happiness, but I do believe that being happy and pursuing happiness are not the same. At the end of every dogma, lies a reward for its worship that invariably entails happiness. That’s why there is a heavenly reward for all those who ‘believe’, and a capitalist’s paradise for everyone who runs with the rats Thus we have unabashedly accepted that we do, and unquestionably should strive for happiness.

Capitalism has led us to believe that we can always be happy by mass-producing, packaging and selling things that we believe will make us happy. That is how hundreds of stereotypes, narratives, and inter-subjective belief systems, reinforced every day, have wired us to think that happiness is the purpose of our life. But let’s take a step backwards and put on our veils of ignorance, and ask ourselves how do we judge a person’s quality of life?

 

In my opinion, all our human endeavour that we are proud of and encourage others to replicate, have been the ones that have had a positive impact on the human species. These men and women who have given us a reason to be proud of being humans sit immortally in the hallowed halls of our common history. We call these people successful because they have contributed to humanity and we know for a fact that almost all of them derived happiness from their work, or whatever laurels that followed. This is how we formed the postulation “success begets happiness”. To be remembered for what we got right, brought happiness unto our deathbeds and beyond. This was success, but somewhere down the line, we conflated happiness and success.

 

We found a short cut! Since happiness was the reward for our endeavours, instead of striving for creating something useful and meaningful, it sounds efficient to chase happiness directly. However, happiness could never be achieved – like success or wisdom – making it an unattainable goal. It is rather, a by-product of our actions, which were synonymous with bequeathing a personal legacy in the past but with capitalism driving not just our economies but also our lifestyles, we have the option of just lifting it off a rack or delivering it home. The catch is, nothing that you can buy, can provide you with long-lasting contentment because there’s always something better. So, we get caught in this endless pursuit of happiness, consuming- at the cost of creating. We have seemingly managed to harness happiness without actually being worthy of it, unlike in the past. It’s not just my conservatism; there are real-world repercussions of this lifestyle.

 

When we begin to covet happiness, we conversely denounce unhappiness. That is why depression is still a taboo and crying is restricted to certain times, places and even people. We begin to weight the worth of everything ‘sought after’ by the numbers seeking it. Thus, we give the measure of our happiness, (and thus success) to strangers and get busy making the world believe we are happy. Whereas the only person who can tell you’re happiness is you!

 

The flimsy line of difference between the meaningful pursuit of happiness and degenerative hedonism is our power to choose. So if we are happy binging on a new TV series in a dark room over finding your niche (place or person) to leave it/him/her better or happier than you found them, I’d say that’s quite a low standard for a sense of achievement. At least collectively, our goal should be collective good because nothing can give you more satisfaction than being told how you touched a life. Times such as these that force you to ask of yourself, what is it that you want to be remembered by can put things is perspective and you on a path. No matter what the answer is to what you will be remembered by. That is what I learned from Kalinithi’s book, you learn the most about living only when you’re dying.

 

 

I think Ralph W. Emerson put it right “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” All I can add is the obvious; achieve something small every day, find contentment in seeing it change someone’s world, somewhere, somehow.

Emergency lesson

And then the Government of growth and

Government of sweat shoppers said,

It is a compulsory holiday that you must take

One we had long failed to deliver

 

Under the rules of this emergency

Go to your family

And be with them only

Learn to play,

Learn to live,

Learn to give,

As if, there was nothing to do today

 

The economy will surrender

Without politicians to philander

We might emerge out of this

A little wiser

Or just the same.

Letter Of Love

 

It is pure but not simple

For nothing true ever is 

And the truth it was,

A letter of love.

 

The archaic one-sided conversation,

 Was a path untrodden

My words came quite unrestricted 

Overwhelming a long reticence.

 

I recalled the desires of other people,

Not knowing whether right or wrong. 

My cognisance resurrected, purging 

The indifferent parchment, encoring.

 

The letter in a thousand words 

Asked but one question, 

Will it be the trance of a reality 

Or the reality of a trance?

 

Between my expression and the response uncertain,

Lies a shadow of fate 

And in the tumult of fate, a heart aquiver 

Had abandoned its place 

Dancing all over, the letter of my love.

Sleep

Darkness engulfed me

It was cold and silent outside my cocoon

The time too was right but

I just couldn’t sleep!

 

Applied all known methods, tried all secrets

The old and the new, the common and strange

But the harder I tried,

More difficult it became

 

My eyes were shut

But my mind I couldn’t

Everything was whirling past

My version of the past, the dismaying present and the scary future

 

I thought of my day

What I could have done, better

Than what I had done

Replaying them unconsciously, again and again

Until they became my reality

 

I was a little jealous

Of those around me

Living their dreams, in their dreams

But dreaming!

 

To shut my mind

I opened my eyes

Hopping from one place to another

Hoping to get bored and lost

 

Yet the memory of the room

Darkened by the circumstances

Played its tricks

Something was lurking, behind every brick

 

The concern of enough sleep

Had now subsided

Along with courage

Fleeing, as I became aware

Of more pressing concerns

 

The sound of an empty plastic packet

Scratching the surface of the floor

Prying to gain entrance

Perhaps into the marble floor

 

 

A white kurta hanging

In mid-air

In a place

I doubt a peg existed

 

I courageously cover my head in sheets

Blocking the sounds and visions in the dark

Only to feel dark figures moving closer

In the absence of my terrified gaze

 

Someone coughs

And I’m reminded of 7 mortals sleeping

Apart from the imaginary life forms lurking

I shut down in comfort of the crowd

 

Not all late nights are worth retelling

Of an all-boys boarding school.

I’m Nice, Not Naïve

I am not naïve

But all of my actions are

Plain and simply in interest

Of people not always including me

 

Maybe that’s not true

Maybe it is because I never know

When I might need that person too

Or it’s just that I don’t find it so hard

To smile and pay a little attention

For that’s all there is ever to do

 

It’s working out for me

As of now, at least

But if it doesn’t,

I know a thing or two about politics

 

But if everyone starts believing

That the world’s not a very pleasant place

To justify their sinful gains

We’d never really reach the world of our woven tales

 

But if I’m naïve to believe

That such a world could ever exist

Then I’d rather be naïve to live in the delusion of a reality

Than create an illusion of my morality.

 

I am nice

Not naïve

 

 

Kings of the Street

I live in that part of town

Where animals thrive

Both on the streets

And in the houses

Without discrimination of breed or beauty

Like their pampered cousins might suffer

For a leg yanked the other way in an old injury

That would have better if it was lost altogether

 

No one bothers them much

Unless they come in the way

Of a car in casual hurry

Or too near a vendor of fruits

 

Along with Chacha’s azan

And Panditji’s sweets,

Every morning prayer, namaz and congregation

Is also attended by the puppy-eyed, four legged devotees

Seeking a tiny part of benevolent promises

People are making inside

 

So, Mom would spend an extra 15 minutes

In the kitchen, a sauna in all but comfort

To make extra rotis for Nandi

And all her friends she brought along

 

Momina, next door, would guiltly dump the bones,

A little away from the open drain, 

Especially the ones with bits of meat still clinging

Ignored, by those who could afford to,

For those who have been 

 

I think it’s a collective effort

or a conspiracy rather,

To keep them alive 

But just alive, to survive 

And do justice

To our daily acceptance of Maula’s azan and Pandit Ji’s Prasad

And the zeal with which these dogs guard our street

While holy cows bless us with their presence.

 

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