RIP CHESTER BENNINGTON

The first time I heard a Linkin Park song, I was about 13. ‘One Step Closer’ was the first, but it was ‘In The End’, the second, that quickly became a personal favorite, retaining its place in the top ten of my heart for the last 16 odd years, regardless of how distant I eventually came to be from the band that was there, with me and for me, while I was growing up.

The voices of Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington were my sources of light through some pretty dark times, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating in the slightest when I say that were it not for their music, I may not have escaped with my life, certainly not my sanity. And I know a lot of people feel that way. That is as remarkable as the untimely loss of Chester is tragic, though I suppose I must also admit that we would have never been ready to say goodbye. Apparently Chester was ready though. And I hope with all my heart that he finds the peace he was seeking. May he know no more sorrow…

I’ve spent the last four days catching up on two years of music that I seem to have somehow missed out on, and, now, his voice is in my ears, in my head, and I can’t… find the right words to articulate the profound sense of grief and loss I am experiencing. There are no right words.

Like I have just watched an Angel fall.

Requiescat in pace, Chester Bennington.

Thank you for everything, brother.

Love,

Always,

Me.

On the Execution of Burhan M. Wani

Either he and his friends were armed and dangerous and had to be shot on the spot

OR

he was intoxicated and began to cry when surrounded.

You cannot have both. As for the people celebrating his “execution”…

A 21 year old boy issues a “challenge” to the Army of a nation. There’s a high chance he has not ever even fired a shot at anyone. He declares, on social media, that what Kashmir needs is Azadi because there is too much violence and too much impunity in the hands of the military. The army accepts the “challenge”, hunts him down and kills him. The people identifying with the State rejoice, even as his friends and neighbors love him more for having the courage to speak out and die while all they have done is avert their eyes when a mother wails for her raped and murdered daughter, for her disappeared sons, for her arrested and tortured husband.

A new line is drawn.

Who wins?

I do not know, but this does not taste like victory.

It tastes like shame.

Question for the Day: How do you define terrorists and heroes?
The answer: Depends on where you are standing.

The test remains the same though:

Terrorists terrorize _the people_.
Heroes fight back _for the people_.

Watch out, brothers and sisters. The long overdue consequences of our actions await us.

The long overdue consequence of our inaction awaits us.

Requiescat in pace, brother.

“It is very evident that there is a lot of anger and alienation as far as the ground situation is concerned, especially among the youth, and these are some of the occasions when they can actually come out on to the street and pelt stones to vent. Otherwise the way things are controlled and managed here, their emotions are suppressed. As a result, people are associating themselves with the sacrifice, commitment and ideology. More and more people feel that Government of India is not going to resolve issues related to Kashmir through dialogue or discourse. This is the reason why young boys are coming and challenging the might of the Indian government despite knowing that they may not win; and they are displaying their resistance and resilience.”

– The aftermath of the Burhan ‘Encounter’

The Night Begins

He came to her, as he always did, to their chosen secret place, and she smiled as he appeared, breathing heavily from the long walk uphill.

“You’re too happy”, he grumbled, even before she’d managed to greet him.

“Sorry”

He sighed, “Don’t be like that.”

“Okay.”

Damian frowned, but couldn’t bring himself to say anything further. After all, she had returned to see him again, just as she had said she would. He knew it must not be easy. The tired lines around her eyes as she turned to smile at him made him feel a twinge of guilt. But he shivered at the thought of that empty, aching loneliness which was just waiting to envelop him once she was gone for good, and he cast aside those feelings of guilt. Now was not the time.

Cerid was watching him closely, a strange expression on her face as she watched Damian’s distracted frown go through a series of minor transformations, until he suddenly snapped his icy gray eyes on to her warmer brown ones, and even though she smiled comfortingly at him, the haunted look in his tired eyes made her want to cry.

But, Cerid had not cried since the war had ended. Not once. Not even when she had spent two weeks watching Damian destroy everything around him, until the cursing and swearing and whiskey and screaming was all done with, and all that remained in its place was his pale gaunt frame, surrounded only by endless destruction and stony silence. Her heart had ached as she’d watched, but she hadn’t shed a single tear.

Damian liked to believe that it was because she had run out of tears, and not because other people’s agony and pain affected her more than his. Cerid thought it had something to do with the last battle she’d been part of. Because she had had plenty of tears to shed that day. An all of a sudden, the picture of little Remo, lying in a pool of his blood, flashed through her mind.

He had been a day away from his fifth birthday. She had promised to gift him a real kite. He had been counting down the days. The day of the last air-strike… it was Roberto who had found out first. Damian had been in the middle of his own dilemma. Straddling both sides of the war, he had a difficult decision to make. Even though, technically, he would always be of the Shadow Tribe first. Ceridwyn had been at the forefront of the battle. And she had watched Remo die.

Ceri! Ceri!

She opened her eyes to find Damian kneeling over her, eyes full of worry, “Are you alright?”

She laughed, then, suddenly aware of the bizarreness of the situation. “We have to stop doing this”, she whispered, leaning up into the familiar frame of his body. He swallowed, once, twice. “I understand”, he said, “But what am I supposed to do?”

She shook her head at him, despondent and unsettled, “I love you.”

He looked down at her cautiously, then swallowed again, “I have always loved you.”

“And that’s why you can’t stay”, she whispered, smiling up at him gently, even as her eyes sparkled with waylaid tears.

The baby wouldn’t stop wailing. She knew that it was Arianna’s son. Arianna, who had trusted her and helped them escape when the entire kingdom was against them. Arianna, who now lay buried not far from here, shot in the heart with a poisoned arrow, even as her husband fought on in the Outer Circle with the other Marine Corps. Arianna’s son was trapped inside the burning building, and his mother was injured, and there was no one around to help him. Cerid had already lost a lot of blood. But she could hear the shouts in the distance, and it was clear that victory was imminent. She was just steps away from the designated Tower. She’d get medical attention there, and probably be able to send someone for the baby.

But it would be too late.

And as she turned away from the tower and towards Arianna’s home, for some strange reason, she thought of Damian and the last thing he’d said to her.

Dead to me.

He stared at her for a moment, memorizing every detail of her face as she smiled at him encouragingly. “It’s going to be alright. I’m always going to be here, with you.”

“So,” he began, in a shaky voice, stopping to take a deep breath and continue, “What you’re saying is I’ll never be walking alone.”

She beamed at him then, and for just one tiny moment, Damian forgot all about the last night of the Quarter Century War, when he had returned to the village only to find her overwhelmed and outnumbered against Assassins intending to eliminate all the noble-born children.

He had joined in the battle, and afterwards held her blood soaked body in his arms, as the cheer of celebration and jubilation rang out all around them, and the last of her life ebbed away from her. “Forgive me” he had cried, but it had been too late, and the only answer he had was the silence of the blankness in her empty eyes, just as she had promised him.

Sudden darkness. The hill was empty now. A cold wind rustled past the nearby trees, and a whisper trembled at his ear.

“You’ll never walk alone.”

Damian fell to his knees.

The night had begun.

Happy Birthday to The Love of My Life

It’s been ten years. Through which my Love has always been by my side. She accidentally grazed the side of my dad’s hand when she was a puppy, and accidentally bit my brother’s ear when she was a few weeks older. My mother’s always been too scared of her excitement to let her teeth get near her, really. But, her and I, well, I taught her how to fight, and hunt. And I guess I was too fast for her. Or, more likely, she was always just too careful.

Spark’s and I go back twenty years. From the day I first asked for a puppy. I didn’t know it back then, but I wasn’t asking for any dog. I didn’t want any dog. I wanted Sparky. I wanted her black ear, and her fear of thunderstorms and her hatred of Diwali. Her love for cheese and carrots and, like an addict that knows no better, chocolate. Her kind suspicion when it came to smaller animals, who she would never hurt. Flies, mosquitoes and lizards notwithstanding, of course. And she never ate lizards. Just tried to play with them and then got all confused when they would stop moving. :\ Or when they’d shed their tails and run. Sparky always was a hunter.

The doctors are now saying there’s nothing they can do for her. Today’s her tenth b’day, just so you all know. I was there the day she was born. With her one black ear amongst her snowy white siblings, she was already special. The craziest, most adventurous pup of the litter, I instantly knew that she was all I had ever wanted. All dogs love my dad, and vice versa, so convincing him was not a problem. And, my brother, K, he was pretty onboard with the idea too. Even though he originally insisted we take her mirror sibling, but I think that was just to be different from me. You know? Brothers do that. Because from the day she entered our house, my brother and Sparky have their own bond. After all, he did mend her dislocated jaw all by himself. So, of course she forgave him for feeding her the core of an apple once in a while coz he was too lazy to get off the couch. Crazy Sparky likes fruits anyhow. When you give her pomegranate, she chews on the little pieces with the front of her teeth, so that the juice flows out.. I keep telling her that she’s too smart to be a Dog, but she just looks at me with a carefully crafted blank expression. As if she can’t understand what I’m saying. Tch.

Anyhow, so it was my mum that needed convincing. And, what to say? Now it’s her that Sparky follows dutifully around the house. After all, the rest of us leave. Though Sparky has her own relationship with everyone else in the family. Like, she waits for no one to get home the way she waits for my dad. They have this whole walking thing going on, which is pretty incomprehensible to the rest of us.

I left for college. When Sparky was 4 years old. But she never forgot me. And, I had her picture stuck on the door of my cupboard all through my time at college. It’s still stuck on my cupboard at home. Though, nothing beats the real deal, of course.

Which brings us to why I’m writing this post today. Because the doctors tell us that her time has run out. She’s outlived all her beautiful relatives, because she was always the strongest and sparkiest of the lot, so that’s not surprising. And she is rather old. Dalmatians apparently live to be just this old. So, that’s not surprising either. But, she’s the love of my life. She changed my World. Made everything worthwhile. And to think that I would never have her greet me at the door, wagging her tail and rubbing her furry head against my black clothes, the thought absolutely breaks my heart.

I’ve not had the best of years. These past two years. In fact, it’s all been pretty messed up. But, I graduated, and I got myself a job, despite everyone’s lack of expectations. And I can’t help but think that Spark’s was just waiting to see us all settled in to our new lives, God Bless her. You might think this is just romanticism, but I tell you, that dog is smart.

I’m not going to edit what I write here. I just love her so much, I wanted to write about her, and I don’t know if I’ll be capable of doing that once she’s gone. She changed my life just by entering it, it’s impossible to assume that she’s going to leave it unchanged. I hope she’s always happy. And if I could trade places with her, I’d do it in a heartbeat. She made my life worth living. And, with her lawyer coat, I’m sure she subtly edged me towards law school too.

I hope that wherever she goes, there’s always plenty of pigeons to scare and crows to chase. I’m sorry I never got her the chance to run after a bunny, because according to the Famous Five books I read, dogs love to do that. But she’s seen her share of cats. And she’s run around in beautiful golf courses in both the setting and rising sun. It’s been a delightful life. With a new stuffed toy every time she tore her last one to shreds, starting from and not limited to all the ones my brother and I owned as kids. Except the puppy and the rabbit. But she can have them, if she’ll take them. She can have them all.

You’ll always be the one I love the most, Sparky.

Always.

May you dance with the wind, and chase the clouds and finally understand that thunder is nothing to be scared of. I’m sure there are no firecrackers in heaven, and may there be nothing else to scare you ever either. I’m sorry I can’t come with you. But Lyka and Spooky and the rest of your family is waiting for you. And I’m sure they’ll take good care of you. And, you, of them.

And when I finally do die, I know you’ll be waiting for me, tail wagging and head all ready to rub on my black clothes. I’ll come see you even if it is hell I’m going to. Though I suspect you’ll get me to make it to heaven, you smart manipulative Scorpio doggie.

So much love, and much more than that,

your sister and hunting buddy,

me.

Don’t Leave me, Baby

The pain of death is not the pain of not existing anymore, it is the pain of permanent separation. It is pain for those left behind, left alive. It is pain for those that loved you, and always shall.

For eight years before I ever met you, you existed in my heart and wishes and desires. I have loved you since before the birth of your ancestors. I needed you and wanted you and loved you for so long that it sometimes feels like I wished you into existence.

There’s no one else in this whole world whose company gives me more joy. No one else who can look at me with those big brown eyes and make me feel like I am something so special, and so good. I can’t lose you, my baby. You are the only pure thing i have left. The only thing that isn’t rotten and twisted and crumbling. I need you. Please don’t leave me.

I know you’ll be in a happy place whenever and wherever you go, and I know Spooky and Laika and all your other brothers and sisters, whom you have so competitively outlived, shall be waiting to meet you and greet you and play with you, and I know that all of you will have so much fun together.

But, don’t leave me. I’ll be lost without you. How will I walk into the house knowing you aren’t going to be there to greet me with your tail and your tongue and your soft, soft ears? How will I sleep ever again? How will I ever look at a Dalmatian and not burst into tears? How will I move on, baby?

Don’t leave me now. I was away for so long. I’ve just come back to you, and being able to kiss your face, and nuzzle my face into the softness of your neck and feel your fur under my fingers, I need that, baby. I need that more than anything. Take away all those other things and people. Take everything away. Just don’t go. I’d trade it all away for you. You are the only thing in my life worth every single breath I have left.

You’re my lawyer doggy, baby. And I LOVE you. I love you more than I have ever loved anyone or anything. And I will always love you most. And if you leave me, I don’t think I will ever stop crying. How will I be happy without you, baby? No. I can’t stand the thought.

I need you. Don’t leave me. I love you. I’d die without you. Stay a while. Please. I know I’m being so selfish. And unreasonable. And irrational. And I know I’m a horrible human being who doesn’t deserve you. But you can’t leave me now. Not now. You’re the only reason I have ever had to truly stay. And I need you to stay with me for a little longer.

Without you, I’d be lost.

You are my heart.

You are my soul.

I love you.