29 December 2015

The Mark of Cain - PART II

If you want to go back to Part I, Click Here...

Part II...

Eve was outside for some little reason. May be she was combing her hair for the dinner-do. May be she was looking for some flowers to add to her hair for the super-supper. Whatever... she was out.

In the glowing orange dusk of the setting sun, at the rim of the horizon, silhouetted by the aura, there was an energetic creature, walking towards home, with a stick in hand, curly locks blazing like gold. Around his neck, a nice little lamb. Mmmeh! Mmmeh! The homecoming bleat of the sheep.

'Adam, CAIN... Abel!!!'  She squealed breathlessly, unable to contain her excitement. Son comes home... as the sun went slowly down. Cain looked on. First at Adam, then at Abel and then... at the flat top of the rock in the distance. The offer remained untouched.

'Cain! You've been untruthful!' He heard a voice. Only he heart id. He was worried. The Voice could have been God's!

Meanwhile, laughter ringing around him drew his attention back to his family.

That night there was laughter and more laughter. That night there was bonfire. The fire crackled. As they all ate and chewed the juicy meat, a new fire started burning. Cain did not like all the attention Abel was getting. Cain remembered the grains untouched by God. Cain remembered the fat sheep that God accepted. Cain gazed at Abel. He was starting to feel jealous of Abel.

The next morning the sun rose. It was going to be another hot day, a very hard day for Cain. Abel? Oh, he was on a holiday. An idea struck Cain. 'Abel! Would you like to come with me to the fields today?'

They set out together. While they were there, when Abel was not aware, Cain took a big stone and hit him from the back, on his head. Abel looked up surprised. A few seconds. Then his head lolled down, he slumped. Abel died. He lay there in a pool of blood.

Cain realised what had happened, realised what he had done: murder. He had committed Fratricide. He had killed his own brother. 'Oh, my God! My God! What have I done? In my jealousy, I have killed my own brother!'  He moaned. He tried to quickly dig a big hole and bury the body so that nobody would ever know. But... GOD KNOWS! He always knows. He watches us all. He must have watched this. The sun suddenly grew hotter, there was suddenly a heavy wind. It started as a thing wisp of rolling sand under Cain's feet... grew in noise and beat heavily. A little sandstorm brew. Sand swirled and Cain was tossed from side to side. Cain was pushed forward and backward. As he fought to control himself, sand got into his eyes, his hair, his face. He fought to wipe them away. As he touched his forehead, he felt something strange. He fought his way to the little stream and caught a quick glimpse of himself in the rippling water. It was a very small pool. Still, he could see himself. There!

There on his forehead was a mark. A starry mark. 'This will remind you of your shameful act, Cain! Your brother's murderer. In a way, it will also protect you. People who see you will know you to leave you alone!' He heard that invisible voice. 'Oh, God! Oh, God! What shall I do now?'Cain knelt on the ground and lifted his face and eyes upwards to heaven.

'Flee you must! From now on, you will be a wandering soul. You are no man. You acted in a moment of madness and jealousy. You shall become homeless. A wandering nomad!' The voice hissed in his ears icily. And then there was chaos and swirling dust and storm. When it eventually cleared later... Cain was left in the middle of nowhere, in a sandy desert. Thus his descendents too became homeless, wandering nomads.

* * * * * 

Author's Note: If you liked what you read, please do leave comments. Else, too, leave feedback. Thanks.

The Mark of Cain - PART I

The story below is nothing new. It is from the Bible. But, as a story teller, I had to regale a group of tweens and I thought I should make it imaginative and visual without really pushing in the didactic angle to it. Feel free to use it to entertain kids as a story telling, but please do give me the courtesy through a simple acknowledgement.


(Anger and After!)

We all know that a star is a five-pointed celestial object. It twinkles. It shines. It can be seen brightly at night, in the backdrop of a clear sky. It is also most commonly used to identify direction by sailors at sea. Our teachers use them to reward us at school for excellence. Now, do you know who gave the first ever star and who first received the very first star in this world? Nooooo!

Have you heard of the Mark of Cain? Nooooo again? Ok... some say the Mark of Cain was not really a physical mark at all. Some others say it was not given on the body, but as accompaniment, to identify. Whatever it is, Cain received it and we can be sure of it. Considering it was given by God, we can be sure it ought to be a STAR... because... God is soooo kind he wouldn't give anything bad. Even just as a mark of identification. For protection. I see you are all getting primed up and curious. So, here goes!

The Story of the first human being that received The First Ever Star! Only, he did not have it pinned on his shirt sleeve. He did not have it drawn on his notebook either, because unfortunately shirts had not been invented, nor notebooks. It was so long and so far back. Unfortunately, also, he did not receive it for doing a good deed either!

Is this getting suspenseful? Are you getting curious?

Have you heard of Cain and Abel? They were the first two children on earth, born to Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve, after they were tempted by the Dark Angel, who took the form of a serpent, and after they were sent out from the beautiful Garden of Eden, lived a normal life like you and I. They had two children: two sons - Cain and Abel.

Cain spent his life farming, and Abel spent his life sheep-rearing. Cain brought home grains and vegetables to eat and Abel brought home milk and meat to eat. It was a perfect combination. Father Adam, Mother Eve, brothers Cain and Abel, their beautiful, fertile, lush farm and the rolling, undulating hills with green, green grassy meadows for sheep to run around; for sheep to eat grass, grow fat and juicy. However, happiness does not last forever.

In our most excited and happy moments, we forget ourselves. In our moments of excessive self-belief and achievements, we forget He who helps us. Cain did too!  After all, he was human, like us. To Err is Human. He erred. To forgive IS divine, but if the error is that of forgetting He who created us, God chooses to remind us. God chose to remind Cain. He punished him. How...?

God sent him away from his parents. Away. Alone. Far Away. However, God is kind. He does not totally let us down. In order to protect Cain, he put a mark on his head. To remind others that Cain should not be touched or hurt. He put a star on his head. Various people say various things, but a STAR sounds a good thing to put. Especially if you want to mark someone outstanding. Only, in this case, as a reminder of his Sin. SO what was the act of sin Cain committed that upset God so much?

It starts thus: like we all do, Cain and Abel grew up playing and having fun when young. As they grew up, one day Adam called them: 'Cain, Abel! Listen up!! You both have grown up. You too are fine young lads now and strong. You will have to start working at our ranch and bring food for the family.'

Cain and Abel listened. When Pa says something, we listen. They must have said, 'Yes, papa. We understand.' But Cain probably did not fully agree or appreciate. He was not disobedient or anything, but was just that bit fiercely proud. Sometimes, as they say, Pride precedes Fall.

Anyway, Cain was asked to be a farmer. He stayed home closer to parents, taking care of the lands and growing wheat for bread, grains and lentils for stew, oats and barley too. He was happy that he did not have to travel and get burnt in the sun. He wasn't very adventurous. Also, he got to keep his parents more. Abel... he went out.

Abel was asked to rear sheep, tend to lambs and ewes. He was the wanderer. No major adventure or anything, but just that he had to travel. It required him to roam about. All over the hills and mountains, greens and glades, wherever grass was to be found. After all, they were the God's special inhabitants of this earth and the entire world that they know was their ranch. Abel must have felt happy to be let to roam, while Cain toiled at home. Only, roaming and shepherding is not always fun. Not when it involves running behind sheep that stray everywhere. Yet, he did what he was told with obedience. So.

Cain was a farmer, Abel was a shepherd. Cain, who must have felt happy being home... was unhappy. Abel, who must be sulking because he was to chase sheep all day long... was happy. We are what we choose to be!

Why was Cain unhappy? The land he had to grow crop were not exactly completely fertile. It was dry and often sandy. At times, he had to dig out rocks. Rains were scarce too. During summer, when the sun beats down hard on your back, as you work, it is not fun. It just is not fun, out to be working in the sun. Remember, shirts had not been invented!

Abel? oh, he was happy; young, cute eyes, curly locks, legs grown strong due to roaming freely around, smile at the corner of his lips... you get the picture. Every time he came back home, he brouhgt along fat and tender lamb. There would be fire in the open at nights. The family of four got together; fire and stake, juicy and succulent tender meat, to savour and eat. Abel was the apple of Adam's eye, the fav of Eve's heart and in general, the toast of the family. Except...

Cain resented it. Would you not? In his place? He toils hard to make harvest out of a land that boils, is sandy and tough; and here comes Abel... takes away the attention. Thus...

One day, Adam beckoned Cain, 'The harvest must be ready. Go get them. Separate the chaff from the wheat. Make a portion of your best produce as offering to God. Then, bring the rest.' Cain, who never generally spoke against Papa, said, ' But, Papa! Why should we give the best away? Even if it's God! It is a tough soil, I have worked it out all by myself. Don't we deserve the best?'

Adam said, 'We deserve the rest, the best to God we reserve!'

'But... but..."

Adam had turned his back.  'It is He who shines the sun, gives rain, tends to the crops when we're asleep at night. o to him we offer the best. It's thanks giving.'

'But, but, but...'

'NO.'Adam was firm. 'This is getting tiresome.' He turned to Cain. 'Remember, Cain. He is everywhere. He sees everything. He knows everything. And when He's upset, he will get angry. So! When you've reaped the harvest, give HIM the best and bring home the rest.' Roger and out!!

Disappointed, deflated, but not sulking, Cain asked, 'How do I offer him, Papa?'

Adam smiled. He must have put his arm around Cain affectionately, around Cain's strong shoulders, big and rugged as Cain was. All the hard work must have naturally made him a big and strong lad. 'My dear son, Cain, simple. Take a portion - a big one -  of the harvest, place it on the top of the flat part of the big rock that we see over there,' he pointed in the distance and continued, 'and God, seeing our obedience, will accept. After that, you bring home the rest. Brother Abel will be back tonight too. Then, tonight, after he too makes his best offering to God, we'll celebrate.'

It sort of made Cain wince. Abel! Oh!! Oooh!!! So he went, heaviness in his heart, plodding and trudging; when you are low at heart, your energy is down. Cain went. He reaped the harvest. Low in spirits, he couldn't care. There was no song during harvest. So he did not separate the wheat from the chaff and kept a good portion of produce on the flat surface of the rock, came home.

Abel too, close to sun down, came home.

Eve was outside, for some little reason....

Author's Note: It's getting too long, I know. So I am breaking it into two. Part I Ends. Part II...

28 December 2015

The Fall - a short story

The story below is nothing new. It is from the Bible. But, as a story teller, I had to regale a group of tweens and I thought I should make it imaginative and visual without really pushing in the didactic angle to it. Feel free to use it to entertain kids as a story telling, but please do give me the courtesy through a simple acknowledgement.

(How the Garden of Eden was lost... forever!)

The Garden of EDEN

God took six days to create the world. Then He took a day off. The Seventh Day. However, one cannot go on a holiday forever; definitely not God. He is the Creator and the Preserver. So he went about preserving. Preservation is the art of management. He went about managing the plants and the trees, the birds and the animals... He created a beautiful garden.

Beautiful beyond words. It was the equivalent of the Paradise above. It was called the Garden of Eden. Here all year long it was green, it was joy and happiness. Animals never preyed on each other. The strong and the meek co-existed together. Lions, deers, tigers, lambs, wolves, rabbits, bears, squirrels... And the flowers were unfading, the fruits were ripe always, the water spouted as clear springs, ran as bubbly streams, fell into the ponds where one could gaze into the crystal clear depths like into a mirror. It was heaven!

Here God let Adam and Eve live happily ever after. Wait! Is there a happily ever after where humans are involved? Yes, if we are happy and content with what we have. It is human nature not to be. How does our story take a turn?

There were two trees. The Tree of Life and The Tree of Knowledge. The Tree of Life they were allowed to eat from. As long as they ate the fruits from The Tree of Life, they would be eternal. The Tree of Knowledge, He forbade them to eat from. “Be it known, that you two may roam around wherever you want to in this garden, shall have the fruits of all, but one. This...,” he pointed to The Tree of Knowledge, “you shall avoid eating from, if you want to live eternal and here.” Then He went about his work.

There was a snake. It was the wiliest of all God’s creation. The snake had once been an angel in Paradise and was God’s most trusted and beloved angels. One day the angel got funny ideas of becoming God and challenging His authority... and got thrown out of Heaven. Cursed to be a snake. It waited for revenge.

When Adam was out and about, tending to the gardens, watering the plants and sowing seeds and reaping harvest, Eve was bored. She did what a lot of us do. She wandered through Eden. She sauntered by past The Tree of Knowledge. She passed it by, looking longingly at the ripe, red, juicy fruits that hung ever so tantalisingly close. She stopped. Took two steps back. Stood under the tree. The longing to reach out and pluck one of them, just only one of them once, was building up. “NO Eve!” said an inner voice. She hastened past it, forgetting the longing. The snake, hidden behind the leaves of a higher branch of the selfsame tree, saw this, rolled its eyes in a naughty twirl, smirked. A plan was born! Revenge! It would wait, patiently.

The days rolled by. All was well and God was in Heaven. Of course, he came for daily visits to Eden to know of the well-being of his creation.

Another day. Adam as usual was out and about, working. Eve sauntered around. She wandered past by The Tree of Life, then to The Tree of Knowledge. Something like a magnet welled up inside her and drew her to the Tree. The need was growing. She half-raised her right hand, the delicate fingers cupping the fingers like she was about to pluck a ball. The fingers gently quivered, a strange feeling coursing through the body, from toe to head. She stopped. “Hello... Go ahead!” A voice!

Eve turned around. No one. She looked to the ground. Nothing. She looked up: a little bobbing head from amid the leaves of a branch was smiling at her in a very friendly manner. “Who are you?” “Nevermind me,” the snake said, “what is important is how you feel!” It smiled gently, enticingly. Eve smiled back, not sure, vaguely. “Go ahead! Pluck the fruit.” “Nnnnno!” stuttered Eve, “God has told us to stay away from these fruits. He is our Father and Father know better.” She hurried away. The snake was disappointed. Ssssssooo close! I’ll bide my time, it thought to itself.

Eve didn’t tell this to Adam. You can trust her with a secret, surely! But that night, she slept fitfully. The snake and the fruits kept appearing in her dreams alternately, one after the other, until they were mixed up in a flash of montage and she slept off.

The next day. She decided not to wander through that way. She chose another part of the garden. After all, it was huge. A few days passed and one day, she decided she had not passed by The Tree. She walked in that direction. As though guided by some force, she stopped under The Tree of Knowledge. Should I? Should I not?... I should not! She stepped out of the shadows of The Tree and was about to walk off... “You should!” came a voicsssse! The snake. It stepped down from the tree. Wonder of wonders! Snakehead, walking on two legs, like herself, like Adam! She gaped with open mouth.

The Snake chose the moment, reached out, “inky, pinky, ponky,” selected a rich, red, juicy fruit, opened its mouth, bit it deep that juice, sweet smelling, flowed at the corners of its mouth, down its arm! Eve was transfixed. “See.... I ate. Nothing has happened. Do not deny yourself happiness. Go ahead, bite... Bite!”

“Bbbbut... But but, I shan’t. Orders are orders. I want to live here, eternal. This is dangerous.”

“Bah! You do not seem to know everything. This is The Tree of Knowledge. He has forbade you not to eat because... Well, it is not my business,’ the Snake tried to walk away, carelessly. “Listen... Look... Tell me what don’t I know. What is not your business? Please,” asked Eve.


“No, please!”
“Okay. This is The Tree of Knowledge. Anyone who eats the fruits from The Tree will attain Knowledge as God has. Now, if you get Knowledge, you will know everything He knows. He wouldn’t want that, would He? You should want that, wouldn’t you? Eve!”

She had to know. With a flutter of her heart, she reached for the fruit, slowly, delicately brought it close to her lips, with trembling fingers and racing heart.... As her teeth sunk into the succulent flesh of the fruit, a million volt of many things coursed through her veins. The Snake watched, victorious.

Adam, having completed his morning’s work, was heading home for lunch. He happened to be passing by. Eve saw him, “Come here! This is wonderful.”

Adam halted in his tracks. Open-mouthed, he saw with shock on his face, Eve holding a partly bitten fruit, standing under the tree, The Snake next to her. In a minute he understood what had happened. “Eve, Eve, what have you done, oh! That will be it. You have broken God’s Law.”

“Adam, but, this is wonderful. You should taste it too. It is juicy, it is delicious and so very unlike other fruits in the other trees,” she extended the forbidden fruit. Adam was afraid. Also, he did not want Eve to face God alone. He took the fruit in his hand and without delay bit into it. The Snake watched, satisfied. He was beaming smiles.

That moment, as the juices of the fruit raced through his veins, Adam felt funny, looking at Eve curiously as never before. Looked at himself, looked back at Eve. She felt strange, too, looking at Adam looking at her. She felt as if he was scrutinising here. They both held eyes, only for a second, looked back at each other’s bodies, fled behind a bush each, farther from each other, hiding their nakedness from one another. Only their heads showed from behind the bushes. They stayed there, feeling sorrowful, shameful, until almost evening. The Snake? Well, he went back to the branches above.

When the evening came, God came by, to see if his creation was all right. By this time, Adam and Eve had managed to roughly hew a string of leaves for themselves to hide their naked bodies, Adam around his waist, till mid-thigh and Eve around her shoulders and her waist. God saw them. Why are you wearing these? Sheepishly they both came forward. “Ah... Um...” chorused both.

“Did you eat the forbidden fruit?” God gritted his teeth. They were guilty and stood silently. “DID YOU?” God thundered. “Ye...ye...yes, Father!”

“I had warned you not to. Now you know. You feel naked, you feel guilty, you feel pained. GO AWAY from Eden!” They could not look at him. Red-faced, they turned. “WAIT!” He quickly made a dress for each, hewn from Fig leaves. “Wear these... Now leave! But before you leave, let me know how you came to pluck this fruit. How did you muster courage?”

Adam pointed his looks at Eve, who in turn pointed her eyes to the branches above. “The Snake!” hissed God icily. It was the scariest they had felt in his presence. “For heeding to his tempting words, from now onwards you will lose this place. You will find yourselves in a hard landscape, and Adam, you will have to till the land doubly hard, find water by yourself to feed you land. You will toil through scorching sun and chill moon, till your body throbs with pain. Eve, you shall bear children and undergo extreme pain in the process, lose a lot and bring them out. You will both SUFFER! Get out!”

He turned to The Snake, “You shall lose your feet, grovel before me, slither on the ground, find no proper food, live in the pits of the earth, travel on your belly like the worm you are, eat dust and suffer. People will hate you. You will be the enemy of humans! They will hate you, you will bite at their feet and they will kill you.” He shook his fists wrathfully. It was terrifying.

In a moment, around Adam and Eve, the landscape had changed. They were outside the Garden of Eden, the gates have been bolted, a flaming sword swung around fiercely in front of the gates, preventing humans from entering the Heaven on Earth; and the sun burned down on them... as sadly they trudged away.
* * * * *

24 December 2015



In the light of the tunnel
in the sheen of the cave
in the glint of the deep sea corals
in the silvery meniscus of the anthill's depth
in the powdery silt of the fissures
in the sallow valley of a mother's womb
hope eternal springs:
a hidden cache beyond which
the mother lode of life.

20 December 2015

House and I

House and I

Big house
quiet house
darkened house
shades and trellises drawn down
deafening silence inside

twitter and chirp of birds outside
somewhere an automobile squeals
a motorbike sputters by
white walls gaping back
television darkly staring vacuously

I rest my head back on the chair's headrest
close my eyes
a kaleidoscope of memories whirr
prayer bells ring
someone is offering puja
there is hope.

This house and I
we've grown intimate
to each other's smell.

24 November 2015

Three Haikus


mother of mr sun
at dawn; pioneer among
the prostitutes.


Barren sod vanished
like a stilleto through flesh
saplings sprouted.

Mobile Trains - a Haiku

In trains people talk
to invisible lis’ners;

intermin’ble, loud.

22 November 2015

Poems from the 1990s - II

Prelude to Rama’s Rendezvous

The reflections green and golden
the river catches in negative black;
the rainbow weeps - a child lost in industrial fair,
a multi-coloured Malvolio with infra-red and ultra-violet for added effect.
Behold the oceans eye-full now!

The factory siren clarions states’ call,
time world achieves productivity;
let’s go to work, first things first.

Kodaikanal, 1990

Momentary glimpses do stay in memory:
I was twenty four, and surprised
he remembered me. There was
no mistaking, that smile of recognition
the boatman showed.

We went boating, each one of us, an oar
he told me, amiably, that he was
(in his sixties, I guessed)
reliving his youth’s summer in this resort;
it stands for the illusion of summer
or the summer of illusion, I do not remember.

The nostalgia, amid two tin beers, of youth
is like the dip of oar in those waters;
but the thought of myself at his age...?
he soothed me, told me that doubts
when are not rats, are like crabs 
(but both gnaw your thought-sod!),
life when not young is old
time past is all we have, a shipment of recollections
that are shadows, active in youth
and memories when old.

Suddenly, drawn to the chatter of birds,
stillness of hands holding the oars,
I found I had lost count
the number of times our muscles had flexed;
I looked at him bewildered, in awe and wonder,
lost my physical presence, but
there he was, solid before me and chatting
‘Come on, row along, some more beer?


intemperateness, of words
the chores, of words
the normal boredom of words
no poet utters these words who is no curiouser
but there is a blatant silence before sounds
and a curious poet can capture and freeze
the precipitated dew drops
on realisation of their earlier sublimation;

words are the reagents
are the catalysts
the brain workers
no mere brawns.

The delight of wording right words is no worldy thing;
the surface, the air, the light
have the last laugh - it requires dexterity
of a vet
who detects
the exact pore
where ticks
have entrenched
in a poodle-haired,
labyrinthine bog.

But there is no assurance
you’ve got it
must have to misjudge to judge
there is no purity without dirt
no abstract without concrete
no rain without heat.

(however) intemperate, the words
(howsoever) dulsome and choric, the words
are the mechanics lying beneath the wagon
a spanner tucked between teeth.


When you are young and poor at math
you are fascinated towards your English teacher
(In India, it’s still a foreign language!)

Shakespeare comes to life even as synapse functions
Wordsworth and Shelley are part and parcel
of your adolescent favourites
(Lawrence, you get to know later
Lady Chatterley the flash point)
Grammar inherent, poetry immanent
(only you don’t know to put pen on paper then)

I was also poor at math
and fed my first thoughts
when I dreamt the Muse;
and felt drawn to the late librarian at Hull
(felt drawn by the neighbouring girls, too,
but that inspiration came later:
all the same both helped me with images and imageries)

No . The girls did one better,
kindled the embers more times than Yeats or anyone;
urgencies physical mean more than enjambe-
ments and Hyacinths had newer bearings
concentration was becoming a problem;
some said, ‘take a course in writing’
others: ‘study the tradition!’
(intercourse with words!)
‘What’s in a name?’... it’s a game all the same.

Since, ever since I’ve been writing
more copiously than ever
(no, I won’t be discovered in anthologies),
drooling day after day over files and notes.

What am I? a poetaster?
a contemporary clerk of a versifier?....

20 November 2015

Poems from the 1990s

Longings from a Distant Shore

Eager voices prowl about an empty tongue,
the glib talk is around:
wails of the writhing ones reach up to the sky...

‘what am I doing haunting streets that I never belong to?’

To be alone,
sequestered like a liar’s truth...

‘what am I doing haunting the back-streets across black-waters?’

Desperate like an elliptical hangover
it does not profit at all:
an ambiguous statement, Delphic oracle and us!
devoid of direction, bereft of soil,
sinking in the whirlpool and trying to become tubers,
we are Wordsworths in Bonsai Woods -
children lost in a shopping mall.
- (written for an anguished friend abroad)

Optimistic Advice for Another Day

Mixed emotions make bundled contradictions
ripping skin and discording blood veins;
when it reaches the core
you’ve had it;
half the time when you are down
you are out too -

feelings lead to fatigue
even as nostalgia leads to a trip through unknown,
when it is averted
you have achieved it,
(coming successfully)
like a football player, like a yogi,
(numbed of physique), going through motions spiritedly
reaching dispassionately for the goal...

let out a primeval yell - the world responds.
victory is just a victory without conquest
conquering is all
lie down on a table tranquilized
see, just don’t feel, the operation performed
be part of it
the spirit shall conquer!

I cannot, never been able to
for I am dead, dead to my environs.


Jagged, let go your silence
And let the city strum the strings of turmoil.

Where rats chase lions
Elephants shy away from deer
And foxes go straight
Impale your thoughts
And let Caeser die:
He cannot breathe these mutations.

The impulse to create has shifted:
Medals and awards are easily returned
Kids are easily made 
than works of art.

Talks are on about ozone layers (still!)
And hairs on bald head:
Incongruity turns the logic of existence...

O Casanova,
Extend no more the dechastising of a male
As another aberration, mere obvious illusion
Because humanity believes in beliefs:
There is more to life,
On either side,
Than eggs with bacon.

The Advantages of Being a Hindu

I pass them
the copywriting chicks twinkle
their yellow teeth in flourescent braces,
kept safe-vaulted in lip-sticked exaggerations;
the unemployed loaf around theatres
with girls in hip-hugging garbs;
prostitutes get down from policevans
heading to courts,
bribing out their passionate pleas.

I try to marvel at red-buildings
erected by Indo-Saracenic colonists
with servile, beedi-stenched masons - 
but my thoughts get side-tracked,
return to ad-agency cousins
whose graphic breasts kindle my verbal creativity!

A sentimental slogan comes as timely reminder:
“Hinduism expects you to respect Sita and Nalayini!”

I safely decide to search
an accommodating Draupadi
and have a go at Arundati, too...

In this land Bharat
“Hinduism regards chastity and respects women”
I am a Hindu,
All Indians are my bhais and behans.

19 November 2015


More than the more-famed Nazi history, I have been since the 90s drawn to its lesser-known, more efficient and brutal sibling, the Stasi history.

In the 40 years after the fall of Nazi Regime, the socialist communists of post-war Germany, with rabid support from the erst-while USSR, had organised a more Orwellian state than you could ever imagine, dividing a city with a wall, cleaving a nation, culture, race, families, relations with an ideology and ruling with an ironer fist called Staatssicherheit - the State Security Police. Welcome to the DDR - the Deutsche Demokratische Republic or East Germany.

I was first made aware of the reality, in person, on my first day of a year's sojourn in Magdeburg, in 1995. I had been there to bring about my doctoral research period partially, doing research, working as research assistant to one of my mentors, Dr. Bernd-Peter Lange, at the Institut fuer fremdsprachige Philologien, Uni Magdeburg.

The Wall had fallen in 1989, although. I was visiting almost 6 and half years later. Yet, one could smell the remnants. It was a Schadenfreude as the Germans call it. Self. I was depressed, yet happy. I was living in the recent shadows and experiencing urgent leftovers of history. More of my personal experiences in these pages as we go down the days, months, years! Now to the context of the heading of this post.

My second Annaeherung or Encountering with East Germany was through what I consider a phenomenally moving work of fiction - BRANDENBURG by Henry Porter. A must-read for anyone interested in the special events on the streets of Leipzig that led to the breakdown of the most ruthlessly efficiently run State machinery called Stasi and DDR.

My third encounter was that iconic work of film - The Lives of Others. And then, of course, my all time favourite work on Germany - past and present - a must-must-must watch movie: GOOD BYE, LENIN!

None of these had prepared me for what I bargained to pick up almost 4 years after its publication, when I casually was  browsing the bookshelves at Anokhi, Chamiers Road, Chennai. I was drawn by the title - STASILAND by Anna Funder. I read it. Awe-inspired. I could smell the Alexanderplatz, feel Marzahn under my skin, physically relive my several Magdeburg-Berlin as well as Magdeburg-Leipzig journeys as I read it. I had met some friends who had recounted some stuff their parents had shared with them, then, in 1995. They were themselves too young to have gone through the SS machinery... and they were harrowing enough. I had had some of my professor friends - both East and West - talk to me of stuff I would like to just retain as stuff. Do not ever want to think these existed. But reading Anna Funder brought a different dimension with her visceral style of Capotean narrative. It was indeed in cold blood... but there were a lot of lumps in my throat through my journey of the book. That was around 2007. And then the effect lasted a few days. Then other books took over my palate and it just went and joined the other frozen seas on my rack.

Until recently, for research purpose, I refreshed my memory. Reread the book. A different experience the second time. It has awoke in me the last week different, long-forgotten, entrenched in sub-conscious memories and experiences of the 95-96 Germany. I am now slightly more objective to run them in my mind's eye. And the story of Miriam is fast shaping up in to a stage-play. I hope to write to Ms. Funder to tell her what a fantastic writer she is... not to please her to give me permission to adapt part of it for stage, but because I genuinely feel so. Few books have the capability to move you beyond words... and among those few, non-fictional works are far among few... this is one.

These are days of non-fiction what with Samuel Johnson Prize being the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But but but... Anna Funder's STASILAND is a unique work. Go on and pick it, without any hesitation.

Poems from the past

I, the Living

A Social Perspective

Just another day in my monotonous life
a spark of madness hitherto unknown is  born.
I try to foster this random depression
with images, imageries
however banal they come:
I just shift.

I, who used to be part of colourful mardi gras,
am gazing now at the solitary beach
infested with huts and fishing nets;
no more vista for breathers
all roads in and out
by marches varying in reasons
from hunger-strikes to identity-crises.
There seems to be no existence to meaning
since pauses have acquired importance;
the watch in the tower (that never works),
ceaseless mortalities,
kids returning from school, with drawn looks and low hung haversacks
have had cessation of interest.

There seems to be no point
nature man created
wafts an unwilling body with the sea of life
letting hover like a leaf in fall:
my thoughts are blinking at me, too.

A Family Perspective

They call me a parenthesis!
At home - a thesis of my parents?
Sometimes a sub-ordinate clause!
I wish I was unborn
that my father was left sterile
or my brother the only sprout
and I had lived as ethers in mother’s imagination.

But he is fond of me - 
I too add to his ration quantity
and tread, satisfied of submission, 
a resigned, battered path.

A Memoir

Ah, I fell vague
like you feel, when you smell
the indentations someone’s breath had left
on your pillow.

I feel my estrangements
me, my thoughts, my inspiration...
and drawl lugubriously within,
blink at the tubelight’s demi-jour.

The side-stuffed mosquito coil
with its head inclined
like a satellite receiver at the
meterologicaldepartmentcampus - that’s me, we.

A total stranger misbegotten to someone’s feuds.
- Nov 1986