Without Choice, Freedom is Meaningless

Sometimes, I believe that it is the ability of man to adapt that is the root of all our problems. For, unless you want things to change, they never will. And, unless you dislike the current establishment, at least to the point of resentment, you won’t really want things to change. Not strongly enough for you to do anything about it anyway.

*And the riot be the rhyme of the unheard*

There are food grains rotting in godowns year after year, across the country, while children starve to death slowly, along with the cattle that is too weak to give them any milk to drink or sell to survive. And as they die in homes made of mud and tarpaulin, hundreds of schools and restaurants and cafeterias across cities throw away thousands of tons of food every single day, even while orphanages struggle to find funding for food for all their kids.

The government spends lakhs of rupees on building memorials for the so-called important, and the dead, while the living join those very ranks because they don’t have enough money to survive. Farmer suicides, victims of industrial disasters, survivors of war. Nothing is sacred anymore. Least of all, human life.

The rich feed on the poor, and the corporations of the world move steadfastly on their own path of greed and oppression, often leaving behind a trail of destruction, of both land and water resources, through toxic wastes that slowly seep out and poison the unaware populace day after day.

Where is the justice for the people of Bhopal, betrayed by their own government and State? Where is the justice for the north eastern states, long oppressed by forces of a Nation forcing them to call itself a part of a whole that has never given a fuck about its opinions or welfare, instead subjected to horrors and unjustified violence by the same forces that are supposed to be protecting those very citizens?

There are too many places in this world where it is possible to beat a man to within an inch of his life without ever facing a single consequence. And the voices that speak out are ignored until they get too loud, whereupon they are quickly silenced.

But, someone must testify.

[My own is hoarse. But, I have decided, that if I am going to be consumed by rage, I may as well burn in the name of the graver injustices plaguing our planet. I don’t exactly know where to start, but I suppose reading is always a good idea. The reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War, first.]

It’s only too late if you’re dead


Toxic thoughts of chocolate sticks
and cold rainy afternoons
Dancing through your tired mind
Like visions of the moon
Distant, cold and mesmerizing
Like the memory of her touch
Soft, warm, inviting, true
and other lilac words as such

Harsh words swirling around your frame
in a way that she once would
like the scent of smoke you swore you loved
echoing like the truth.
And memories mingle with morbid dreams
To the point you can’t decide
whether you’d be better off asleep eternally
or dare venture on to the waking side

For half remembered, half forgotten
is a blessing in your eyes
especially when you dream up love
cloaked in pretty lies
She swore that you would regret it all
And you laughed until it was too late
Now no number of hours spent sleeping
dismiss the empty hours that await

You can clutch your head in mortal pain
and scream and curse and swear
Or saunter on so casually
that it be painful to bear
But all your words and all your pleas
or your life lived in disguise
will never reach her long gone ears
or reflect for an instant in her eyes

Nine Lives

There are Nine planets in the skies
and I knew them all, except for one;
The one that forever in the shadow lies
far from the sight of the glowing sun.

Yet from the darkness of its cold,
I can still hear the whispers moan
of Paradise bought and too quickly sold
and Love, lost, let out on loan.

I used to tremble in reckless fear
Not yet bitten, but dreaming of the snake
With vicious fangs that wait to tear
Flesh from bone; until all life forsake.

It took the poison of a painful sting
To learn that men die not so simply
And even then, did those whispers sing
Of things that were, and those that could be.

“What is it that you want?”, I cried
Dawn after dawn, Night after night
And though the whispers never replied
I felt the touch of their hidden light.

“It blinds me”, I lamented, in vain
Turning from the offending source
“If you only wish to cause me pain,
be gone, haunt me no more”.

But shadows hold no more mercy
Than the dawn of the first light
And for all its talk of blasphemous heresy
It is forever followed by the darkest night.

I stumbled on, darker into the eve
Knowing not what I seemed to seek
And in despair, it appeared I grieved
The loss of innocence, and all that was meek.

My vision grew blurry, senses failed me,
till I knew not right from wrong
I called for mercy, someone to save me
But there was only that haunted, tiring song.

“Enough! I’ve had, I shall run no more”
I said to myself as I stood my ground
And that is when I knew I’d been here before
The source of the Whispers I had found.

One life is all that’s given, they said
To those who know better than to disbelieve.
But Nine lives are saved for the Wretched
For the wretched have no right to reprieve.

And as I stood there in the setting sun
Feeling no warmth from the fading glow
I knew that I was created to burn,
Eight times fast, once soft and slow..

Why I Love Her

(May 2009)

She danced in her very own secret purple dress,
a distracted smile on her face and her heart on her sleeve.
I edged away quietly into the darkness,
but I could feel her brown eyes lock on to the jagged edges of me.

And when Years later, there would be hurt and blame
and a world’s worth of tears as her nails made
intricate designs on my skin.

Designs that wouldn’t fade.
There would also be days
when death would come to play,
and we would stand around exchanging worried looks
as we watched her laugh her way around the people we knew.
While Secrets twisted around what we thought were hearts.

I don’t dance.
And I wear only armor on my sleeve.

We would grow and drift away,
an occasional shout to let the other know we still remembered.

There would be acceptance, even through my mumbled apologies.
There would be a twisted sense of understanding,
like the smile we sometimes shared.

I know why I’d take that bullet for you. 
Yes, a second chance is rare,
but dare
I ask for more?

There are no lies.
We stick to delusions.

We have nothing to show for all of the past except fading words and scars.
Somehow, I don’t mind.
As long as the music doesn’t stop, we’ll be fine.
I would rather watch from the sidelines.
But she’s always been the dancing kind.

Excerpt from Wiser days; circa Aug 2009

In a world like this one, there’s nothing to do, but survive. You do what you can. And you do what you have to. If everything was always pleasant, the rain wouldn’t mean a thing. And every silver lining’s got a touch of gray.

But, in the end, words are words. And they can be forgotten. Or remembered even when they were never exchanged. Like smoke, words are swirling, hazy and momentary.

Memories are nothing but the stale scent of smoke clinging to your clothes.

Change, darling.
It’s all you can do.

Ships; Sailing and Sinking

(10th August, 2009)

We live in constant fear, tired and paranoid eyes scanning the gray seas for any signs of their ships. They wish to hunt us down like the supposed criminals we are. Criminals? We are, but mere, dreamers. We do not believe in their petty Gods of selfish goals and pretty furniture. And for that, we are watched and hunted and live under the constant threat of exile.

Exile! But if there were only a place to run away to! Oh well, the world is round and we’ve been sailing for years. If we knew where this world ended, there would be no need to wander the seas for, what could only be, eternity.

There are many among us who believe that the right boat will come along to pick us up, even though it means doing little more than waiting forever. These men live in the inner cabins of the ship, which they’ve decorated to look like ordinary homes, barely aware of the journey itself. Many fall asleep holding on to memories that stopped being valuable a hundred thousand years ago.

There are a few who leave us, on small boats, convinced that there is no point in this journey. Often, they return once they realize that the night is a thousand times darker when you are alone. Sometimes, we never see them again.

There are those who believe that the shore will appear on the horizon if we just keep sailing. But we’ve been sailing for an eternity. The World is round. But I do not have the heart to remind them.

There are some who sit on the wooden deck under moonlit skies and talk in hushed voices. I join them, sometimes, if only to see the stars reflecting in their otherwise tired eyes; faces suddenly years younger than they appear to be under the glaring light of the sun. Their company makes this voyage bearable. Their thoughts make my soul want to cry out at the unfairness of our flight. Their dreams make me smile. Their hope spreads like flames from a candle kept too close to too many sheets of paper.

And then there are those who have thrown themselves into the raging seas, convinced in the madness of stormy nights and thunderous skies, that the only land there is to find lies many many miles under the water’s surface. I have seen many rescued from such a plight. And I have seen many faces gasping for air before the waters claimed them forever. I have said many goodbyes.

I choke and drown on memories that have long left the insides of my mind. I think I made a mistake when I turned it inside-out. Now the whole world is in my head. And there’s no place left for me in there, anymore.

I have no country to return to. And the land we set out sailing towards seems to be nowhere in sight. This ship and it’s crew is the only world that exists tonight. But even the hushed voices of the people with stars in their eyes can’t drown out the screams of the drowning. Perhaps the only land that exists is really a thousand miles under water.

They never told us that you couldn’t sail the moonlight to the moon…

I think our ship is sinking.

How he knew it was Love

She skipped down the stone path, her little blond head bobbing up and down as they made their way to the lake. Something about that moment affected him, in a way that he couldn’t comprehend immediately, and he stopped, trying to ascertain what it was that he felt. She turned back and looked up at him questioningly, and as he involuntarily smiled, she beamed and waved.

At that moment he knew he loved her; and, it wasn’t at all like his mother had said it would be, as if he’d been struck by lightning.

No, it was more like being knee deep in cherry blossoms before realizing there was a reason everything smelled like cherries.

Fucked up Love

The only way you would love me
Till the very end of days
Is if I were to die for you
So you could never be betrayed

There is no promise to stay here
God knows, us, it would kill
And for every thought that dares dream
There’s another dead bird on my window sill

The Guilt won’t go, the guilt won’t end
Not until all has been turned to dust
But, I fear, instead of destroying it
I’d just be leaving you to rust

And if the guilt was yours, and I was gone
I would never know a trace
Of the peace I would like to die for
Only yet found in your embrace

And, sometimes, I fear, It would not be enough
Just for me to leave
For maybe the answer lies instead in holding you close
And forcing us to believe

But the dead birds cry on my window sill
even as we offer them no reprieve
And the guilt is mine, the guilt is mine
I would not dare to grieve

For thoughts and dreams have no place
In inevitable reality
Like, you, and I, have no place
In dreams of what we could be

For life will twist, and life will change
And promises would kill us dead
While all the birds, on my window sill
Die, right after begging for bread.

The only way you would love me
Till the very end of days
Is if I were to die for you
So I could spare you the disgrace

The ache of knowing what was destroyed
And exactly what it is that now lies dead
No! The guilt is mine, and mine alone
Love, you just rest your weary head…

To Kanzeon Bosatsu, The Merciful Goddess

Dear Goddess of Mercy,

Tell me, what it is that I have done wrong.
Before you punish me, at least name my crime
And, if you wish it remain unrevealed
at least assure me, it will make sense in time

For I have been cut, yet I will not bleed
You who know me so well, know how I shall be
and of everyone from the same scriptural creed
Oh, Goddess of Mercy, why pick me?

I have been here before, I’ve walked these halls
Goddess, dear Goddess, I’ve done my time
And it hasn’t been long since I learned to fall
I did as you asked, so, now, what is my crime?

Goddess of Mercy, Gentle and kind
Must you laugh as I struggle to breathe?
Must you set me ablaze to teach me to shine?
And must I not cry, only to relearn to bleed?

Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted

Not all revolutions involve assassinations and civil wars. Though, I am yet to learn whether all revolutions require the same.. It’s easy to feel like that sometimes; much harder to take a stance and fight for what you know is right, with only your words and your convictions to make a point, not daggers and poison.

Words have always held power, and they always will. Their impact might be diluted by way of our insane levels of connectivity and the need to share and discuss the most trivial issues on public fora, but the same also facilitates a network with the kind of reach that is incomprehensible to even those from times that cannot yet be considered past.

We, the youth of today; individuals who have grown in the midst of a chaotic world where everything is accessible, less and less is permitted, and everyone has an opinion that they scream directly into your ears or shove down your throats, carry a different burden of responsibility. It is an era of change. And change we must, or we shall die.

Apathy, violence, hate, jealousy, greed; none of these is new. But the ability of man to destroy is much greater now than ever before in the past, and that is why things must change.

Earth has borne the burden of mankind for centuries without a complaint, and now that the planet is  falling apart, our careless ways must change.

Corruption and incompetence have long been a part of human history, but we are no longer a new species struggling to survive in a new world. We have been here long enough to know better, and hence we must change.

But, first we must learn what to do. And this cannot be explained or taught to anyone. We arrive on this planet just as clueless as the next newborn infant, and every single person must die. The time in between is yours and yours alone. No one who tells you what to do or how to behave shall ever have to live with the consequences of your actions. Each one of us has been given the ability to think our actions through.

We don’t need anyone to tell us what to do.. We are free to follow our own path. There are those who will take that freedom from us, and too many of you gladly give it. But it is our ability to choose – whatever you think is true – that makes us human. There is no book or teacher to give to the answers, to show you the path. Choose your own way. Do not follow me. Or anyone else.

Amen to that. Brothers and Sisters, listen closely, for it is your life, and not your soul that is in immediate need of salvation. On your deathbed, you shall not remember the Sundays you spent at work, or your highest grades in class; you will remember moments of meaning, and worth, and value. And no one but you can create them. That is the time that is running out.

Live your life. No one else can do it for you. And no one else ever should.

Go in Peace.

To say that nothing is true, is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile, and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted, is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic.