The Lost Archers – I

Later, he would recall how the sun had nearly set when she had walked into his office; her slender frame fraught with a sort of tension that echoed in the sharp noise her shoes made against his polished stone floor; as it did in the relentless way she clutched at her deceptively delicate bag, even as she closed the too-large door softly behind her.

And he waited, silently, for her to set the tone of their meeting.

She took a step forward, taking a moment to focus, in the relative gloom of the room, and he waited, patiently, for that familiar look of pain and desperation that always danced just beneath the surface of the mask she had painstakingly perfected, always crumbling fascinatingly under some sorrow that she could no longer tolerate. Only for him.

She never came to him any other way. Not anymore.

But, she did not look at him as she made her way in. And the cruelest, hardest part of him wanted to laugh as he remembered their last meeting. No… if he were being honest, he’d have to say that she hadn’t really looked at him since the day they had said that they were going to vote in the new Constitution, and he had chosen to leave their little syndicate..

It hadn’t even been a minute since she walked through his door, and his peace of mind was already in pieces, but this was no surprise; and though he hadn’t moved a muscle since he caught sight of her, his narrowed eyes followed her across the room,  until she stood in front of him, with only his large wooden desk in the way. And, in the cold harsh light of his sunless room, he wished that the ridiculous ring on her finger would stop distracting him from those dark eyes she had on, and then wished those damned eyes of hers would stop distracting him from the edges of the worn out, ornate dress that was wrapped around her; but he knew what he really wanted: to reach out and undo it. Her. Them.

He motioned for her to take a seat, she graciously accepted, and he waited.

No one can understand me the way you do…

Mido.., she began, hesitantly, and he started at the softness of her voice. Surely it hadn’t always been this frail…

But, the war.. It changes people. Sometimes it destroys them.

And maybe he had forgotten.

She still hadn’t looked him in the eye.

Sūtra?

She lifted her gaze then, to meet his, even as he savored the aftertaste of her name. And, for the tiniest moment, nothing had ever changed.

It’s Agni, Ban, she said, frowning slightly.

He looked about them, and allowed a small smirk upon his face, “And, who are you performing for now?

She took  a deep, calming, breath of air, even as he laughed and leaned back in his chair,So, what’s the plan? Storm out again? Maybe disappear for another few years?

He was still smiling at her, but his eyes were hard.

You know I wouldn’t be here if I had any other choice.

So you keep telling me.

I -‘, she stopped to glare at him, her hands clenched tightly at her sides.

Why don’t we get you something to drink?, he said, making his way to the bar.Maybe it’ll help us…”, he paused as he opened up a new bottle of Scotch, “talk.

She shook her head, and he watched her bare wrists as she pushed back at stray strands of her long dark hair, clearly frustrated.A bar inside your office?“, her eyes flashed dangerously,Real classy, Mido. Must help with the ladies.

You’re one to talk.

I’m not the alcoholic slut.

He chuckled, “It‘s funny you would say so, because that’s not the version of events I remember.

“Shut up“, she said, through clenched teeth.

Why don’t you make me, Princess? I’m sure you’ve learned another trick or two since we’ve last met.

You’re disgusting.

He laughed again, “And yet, here you are. Again.

I- Yes.

She looked away from him, then.. and he followed her gaze as it fell on her ostentatious ring.

Why?

He knew why.

You know why.

It’s always nicer to hear you say it.

It was her turn to laugh, now. But, he intensely disliked the new way her voice drowned into corners rather than bounced off of them, and he waited, silently, patiently, for the mask to crack.

But, she wasn’t looking at him again..

“…I need your help…”

“There are no facts, only interpretations”

When dealing with people who are bashful about their feelings, one has to be able to dissimulate; they feel a sudden hatred towards anyone who catches them in a tender or enthusiastic or elevated feeling, as if he had seen their secrets. If one wants to do them good in such moments, one should make them laugh or utter some cold, jocular sarcasm: then their feeling freezes and they regain power over themselves. But I am giving the moral before the story.

There was a time in our lives when we were so close that nothing seemed to obstruct our friendship and brotherhood, and only a small footbridge separated us. Just as you were about to step on it, I asked you: ‘Do you want to cross the footbridge to me?’ – But then you didn’t want to any more, and when i asked again, you were silent. Since then,  mountains and torrential rivers, and everything which separates and alienates, have been cast between us, and even if we wanted to reach each other, we couldn’t anymore! But when you think of that little footbridge now, you have no words anymore – only sobs and bewilderment.

– Friedrich Nietzcsche, The Gay Science

“What we are, we choose to be.”

– Nuala, Sandman

Free will without fate is no more conceivable than spirit without matter, good without evil.

– Friedrich Nietzsche, “Fatum und Geschichte,” April 1862.

Haters gonna Hate

Well, when they tried to reach her,
she slipped right out of his grasp
and smiling sweetly at his frown,
she shattered like china glass

And then there were a hundred,
but he couldn’t find the one
A hundred laughing voices,
shining brightly in the sun

Fear is only a side-product,
Hope is what causes all human pain
And a hundred pieces of glittering glass
know better than to try again
I guess that’s why they’re laughing
but I really wouldn’t have a clue
If I can’t keep myself together,
what right have I to ask it of you?
It’s only your pedestal
that I wish we’d managed to save
And as it sinks into the sea,
I mourn its distant watery grave.
I meant what I said, you cruel fool
If you’d only stop to see
The dagger you’re so worried about?
You’ve only forgotten it in me.
Well, this dusty shade of rust
may be all that saves me from the gray,
yet, if  we were to meet again
there’s nothing I’d have to say
And even this rant is redundant
’cause it’s watered down with contempt
If all of you are all the same
Why bother to attempt?

Perhaps, in the end, it must be said
There’s no real conspiracy to this scheme
for stranger things have happened,
yes, life is surely, but, a dream.

And I shall live it my way,
I’m not dramatic, just intense
At least I don’t deviate from my own code,
And I’m friends with my conscience.

Custodial Torture, Sexual Assault, and a Medal for Gallantry, but for the wrong side.

Perhaps the most chilling is the recent case of Soni Sori, which involves the brutal custodial torture of Soni Sori, a 35 year old adivasi teacher in a government-run school for tribal children in Dantewada, by the Chhastisgarh police. Arrested in October 2011 on unsubstantiated allegations of being a Maoist sympathizer, and acting as a conduit to extort Rs. 1.5 million for the CPI (banned Maoists) from the Essar Group, Sori’s letters from prison reveal a seriously disturbing story. Pulled out of her cell at the Dantewada Police Station on the night between Oct 9th and 11th, Sori was taken to  SP Ankit Garg’s room, where, on his orders, three men stripped her, gave her multiple electric shocks, and inserted stones into her private parts, at which point, she lost consciousness.[1]

The callousness of the Indian State is best demonstrated by the fact that three months later, the same SP Ankit Garg, far from being questioned for his role in the Soni Sori case, was awarded a Police Medal for Gallantry by the government for his role in a counter-insurgency operation that took place in 2010, says the WGHR report. The Supreme Court ordered an independent medical examination of Sori at NRS Medical College, Kolkatta where doctors found stones lodged in her vagina and rectum.

Yet, to this day, not a single FIR has been lodged against the perpetrators. And, Soni Sori is constantly denied the treatment she needs to recover from the brutal assault.

The unnerving part is that her link with human rights activists is all that saved her from a nameless grave, and it chills me to the bone to think of the atrocities that appear to be carried out in these areas with such a blatant disregard for the law and obnoxious impunity.

What is wrong with this Country?!

Petition to get the Perverted Police Punished: http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/save-soni-sori-and-punish-chattisgarh-police-savesonisori

Please sign it?

Children are Cruel Creatures

Locked doors,
and whispered warnings
still bite into your skin
Cold floors,
and weekend mornings
and how unforgiving you’d been.
Hidden bruises,
spoke of secrets
you swore you’d never tell.
Violent muses
laugh, and place bets
on how much soul you have left to sell.
And all the while,
you must laugh and smile
lest you be labeled guilty of despair
While sneering faces
with their gaudy graces
struggle to pretend to care.
Lonely open windows
were only as close
as you could get to feeling free
Another place,
another face,
Another place I couldn’t be.

This world is cruel
Apathetic and cold
And not a million belated letters of grief
Can change the truth
That it only grows darker
When each of us refuses to speak

You know what I find disturbing about the whole affair? If you log into twitter right now, and look at the news feed under #Bullying or #Suicide, you see this alarming viciousness amongst a large number of 13-18 year old kids demanding why other people who kill themselves don’t get the same attention. And, at first glance, it might appear to be intolerance towards the sort of attention-seeking behavior attributed to Amanda Todd (another sad example of victim blaming), but, the more you stay on that feed, the more it sounds like there are a 100 kids out there, dying of envy for someone to notice how messed up they feel. And, the scary part is how ruthless and cruel it makes them.

It’s easy to think that you’d never do “something like this” or “something like that” when you’re a kid, but everybody makes a few mistakes. That does not give anybody the right to judge and condemn, and it most certainly does not make it okay that you “don’t feel bad that she’s dead”. Because, the moment you say that it’s okay to bully someone who was “asking for it”, you put yourself, as well as everybody you care about, into the callous hands of society. And, once you grow up, those hands are always going to be wrapped around your throat in varying degrees of tightness anyway. Don’t be cruel to each other just because you feel like you wouldn’t kill yourself if someone said that to you.

You can be as proud as you like of your own strength, but you’re only being a coward when you pick on someone you think is weaker than you.

Be Nice!

Matthew 18:15-17

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

[King James Version (KJV)]

Consider me an old fashioned fool, but, somewhere deep down, I’ve always truly believed that all my countrymen (and women) were my brothers, and sisters. Maybe it stems from a near-lifetime of repeating those words every school morning, come rain or sun or hail or bomb scares, or maybe it’s the result of a childhood that viciously stressed on equal treatment for equal people, or maybe I *am* stuck in 2006, back when believing such a thing was still a safe thing to do – regardless of why, I used to believe that.

[Yes, I am aware how incestuous that makes the World, but, well, think of the Egyptians.]

Today, it feels like it’s all just a big joke that someone forgot to let us in on..

Anyway, in a nation that deems it preferable to torture and murder their own flesh and blood in the name of honor, I guess it isn’t really much safer being considered family.

Whatever is, is. The beauty of a/the moment is that it is always changeable, and you never have to stay anywhere for long.

That being said, how do you change the mentality of an entire nation that is literally too worried about unpayable loans and starvation to care much for anything else..? Even if it is the constitutionally guaranteed freedom to life..

And, with every day, with every senseless murder, with every brutal assault, every botched up investigation, and every corrupt politician let off, every case of custodial death, and torture, and every piece of shoddy, depraved, sensationalized reporting, I wait for the people to notice. I wait for the angry roar of the sleeping giant that is the masses; wait for them to wake up and scream: ENOUGH!

But, with every day, I begin to believe that nothing can wake this giant. Not even rivers of blood.

And, we are all swimming in them, you know.

And, we shall drown in them.

But, that’s morbid enough. And, it isn’t why I came here.

I came here to say that enough is enough. And that the craziness needs to stop.

Consider yourselves warned.

And, keep in mind, dear brothers and sisters..

The cornered don’t react well to threats.

Nagarbhavi Chronicles: A Requiem

In September 2007, a student of NLS, Bangalore, was stabbed as he intervened when some drunken men were harassing a fellow student (a girl). In the wake of that incident, an entire student community was left shocked, and disoriented. Especially when media reports began to come in, speculating as to motives behind his senseless murder; trying desperately to pretend that it wasn’t what it was: An act of brutality, committed in the moment, fueled by nothing but the conviction that the legal system would fail.

Because our legal system fails.

Bangalore has since seen five winters pass since that night, and as we enter the sixth one, there is nothing to do but grieve at the state of affairs. However, where does one begin?

The local scenario is beyond messed up. For some reason, there’s this insanely high level of hostility towards students of the Law School in and around Nagarbhavi. From hateful comments lifted of off different news websites, it appears that the following things are irksome about these students: “lavish lifestyles”, “no ethics’, “bold and courageous attitudes”.

It’s one thing to hate, fellow humans, no matter how petty or great the reasons may be, but it’s another thing entirely to take it as far as rape and murder. That just isn’t right. And, surely, you can see that.

Can’t you?

Moving on to the State of Bangalore. Nearly a decade has passed since the curfew of 11 pm was put into place. The main reason cited at the time was an uncontrollable, and growing, “crime problem”. Okay. So, because the police could not cope with the seriousness of the situation, citizens were asked to return to their homes by 11 pm, and they would take care of the rest.

But instead of strengthening forces, and solving the existing problems so that this whole city can go back to normal, the State is comfortable with the early holidays; the police using it as an excuse to relax.

And, we continue living in fear.

Why are we under curfew when we’re not at war? How can the people living in this State allow such a limitation to be placed on their lives?

Because, otherwise you could die.

And this is nothing but Terrorism. Don’t you see? Is it not obvious?

Now, they tell an entire institution to go back into their hostels, and lock themselves in after 7 pm if they want to “stay safe”.

That’s what was told to us 5 years ago, except then you said 11 pm.

And, they’ll do it. But, not because it’s right.

Because it’s not right.

It’s wrong, but they’ll still do it.

You know why? Because you killed their older brother and you raped their younger sister.

.

And, then, they say, those kids, they have no ethics.

But, “those kids” have not killed anybody.

They’re not hurting anybody.

It’s not right to give up your rights simply so that you can be guaranteed the right to life. The right to life is unconditional, is  it not? But, you, you force us all to give up that right under the fear of death, and worse. And, that’s just wrong.

Is it not wrong?

And then you look at the larger picture, and watch this Country going to hell. Who is anybody supposed to appeal to? Look At Haryana, and worse, the Capital itself, Delhi. What hope is there for anybody in this Country to live any sort of normal life? And, then they wonder why the smartest of the lot leave.

We will all leave.

But, what breaks my heart is that this was Bangalore. Safe, nice, cool Bangalore. A place that I can no longer associate with anything but bitterness and anger, and that bothers me so much because I used to love this city.

You haven’t done right by us.

Any of you.

But, it doesn’t matter because you’ll murder us if we don’t listen.

All of you put together, and then the JoI (The Joke of India) can come and dance at the funeral of the liberty that you are so eagerly trying to destroy.

What did we do to you?

What did we do to anybody?