Silence that stretched, darkness that spread
Both behold an expanse, a universe
I embraced the silence
The world of peace, of calm
The unspoken, unstirred
The unheard, unmarred
The still, unjarred
The unchartered terrain of your rage and reviles
The deafening tranquil engulfed the garish gores
The inarticulate clamour of stillness, blacked out the Babel
I plunged into the abyss of darkness
The unseen, the unbelieving
The bottomless, the unceasing
The unfeigned obscure
The unremitting breadth of life
The unlit, swallowed the sparks of your self spirited fury
The colossal lacuna that you parented
Awaits like a behemoth
To drift me away to the promised land
Which is unguided by the misleading ray of hope.
Inseparable they had been as children. Close as two seeds in a cardamom pod,…..he was the one she unfailingly depended upon,to remove the thorns from her soles,to set the world right again……
Another Indian author? I asked my friend. I have been reading only them lately.(I’m scared that my love for Ken Follett will diminish). Reva said OK the next time it’ll be a different one.
As I read, I took flight with the flock of herons to herald a new beginning. Devi , Devanna. Inseparable they are from my heart now. A tale of love and hateful love! A heart that’s tucked away into an abyss of guilt. Emotions so fierce and undying, yet murdered like the tiger by the tiger killer. ‘Nari Malai’the hills that roar with all that’s lying in its belly. But finally perfumes the wind like the jungle orchid.
Tiger hills does complete justice to the spoken and unspoken emotions in the depths of darkness, replete with similes that bring Coorg alive. A book that’ll remain dear to me. Devi leads my way forward to heal the lips of my wounds,slowly together.
The eyes fixed their steely gaze
On the only naked face
In a room that was filled with gloom
With faces that were dressed to spread doom
The eyes pinned their look
On the face, till it hid in a nook
Then , the vile mind twirled and tossed the dice
Wasn’t it all a game of half truths and white lies?
A game of mere name and fame
The baffled face sought for the same
The same, warm smile the eyes once held
Before the triumph of having felled
the bare face.
The only stripped face was now mortified
But it smiled back, feeling fortified
Of having been ripped of emotion
Now, all that prevailed was commotion.
How’s my dress? Said she
It looks lovely and bright. Said I
He’s tailored it to suit you just right
To the shop again you take me.
This a little secret between you and me
The eyes searched me as I went in
There’s new trash said I, in my bin
A secret was bequeathed, a pact made
That I carry this junk till I’m laid
By who? Cried the eyes
By the one who called herself ‘ your ‘ friend till now.
‘Shopping’ was a secret
Dear friend said I
No more baggages will be bought
None will be stored
A free bird am I whose story’s untold
A secret drifts away as doors unfold
A finger pointed has three unfolded
She forgets that doors have keys and holes too
A victim you are, three fingers her bar
A captive she is, of her mind that’s marred
I let the secret out of the door that’s ajar
Lets be free and fly to a land afar.
Triveni stared at the soft board, like she usually did. The staff room was resounding with laughter as her colleagues discussed about each others’ weird habits in a lighter vein. She continued staring at the board and wanted to disappear inside it. She knew that so much laughter around her was harmful. They were mocking at her, she could feel it. It was time for her to vanish and come back empowered the next instant. A repartee to the party that would put this party to a gloomy end.
She was tall, with a creamy complexion, the hair stuck to her scalp and looked well oiled. She always plaited it. A bindi always clung to her forehead. A six yards saree could not quite complete the roundness of her broad frame. Her worn out and faded bra was an old inquisitive hag that always peeped out of the blouse. It was metaphorical of Triveni’s own character. She masked her curiosity behind a flimsy cloak of false divinity. She hid herself in slokas of the Hindu Gods. But right then in the midst of happy people, she felt out of place. Her soft board told her to be creative enough with the repartee. Too much happiness did not suit her. She thrived on sympathy.
‘Sympathy’ yes this would be it again. Play on these cords with the boss and the brownie points start rolling in. She looked at her side, her eyes narrowed and gave her a good view of her colleagues Ritu and Sneha.
Ritu had her hair cut upto the shoulders. It fell softly with light curls giving her rounded face a youthful, joyful look. Triveni loathed Ritu’s existence. She reminded her of everything that she had longed for. Smartness, elegance, friendly attitude! She shifted her gaze at Sneha. She was slim, tall and graceful. Her quick wit tickled everyone’s funny bone. The male colleagues too joined in merrily.
She ran down her check list of making Ritu appear small and unimportant. In the past eight years that they had worked together she had used every trick in the bag. The memory flooded her and pumped her adrenaline.
She recalled the day when her chat show was telecast on TV in the local channel. She remembered the huge effort she had put, to keep the opportunity clandestine. The letter was still with her! The invitation was official. Yet, she was careful in concealing it. Ritu had questioned her about leaving late for home. But she had managed it well. The day arrived, she wanted to see Ritu’s face. She’d imagined the despair on it and had rejoiced. But Ritu had walked down the corridor coolly and congratulated her. Triveni had never felt so dejected! The telecast did not give her the pleasure that she longed for! Everyone always became friends with Ritu. But this time she had chosen her words well! The staff room became sober as Ritu , Sneha and a few more of them left for their classes.
The male colleagues remained seated. She checked her tone, tuned it to sound doleful and said”Mr. Hari, you seem to befriend only well – dressed women.”
Hari was taken aback by the brusqueness of this remark. He smiled and retorted “Ms. Triveni why don’t you too dress up well? I don’t see the point in not doing so.”
Triveni was thrown off guard. This melodramatic dialogue of hers had won her the expected sympathy many times. She was successful in depicting Ritu as arrogant and she’d dropped hints to portray Ritu as a bossy snob. She decided to try her luck some other time. Sitting on her chair, she stared at the soft board. Again her eyes looked up and centre, bringing back the days when she used to be the Principal’s assistant.
Twenty year old Triveni, clad in a faded salwar kameez wiped a tear. The Principal of the school watched her from a distance, she wanted her to. Later she was summoned to the cabin for questioning. Her eyes and lips concocted a story of utter desperation. The story highlighted her marital life which was filled with misery.
“My husband is infirm, hence cannot sustain a job for long.” She said. “The burden of his parents is thrust on my frail shoulders,” She continued “My salary is hand to mouth, my colleagues snigger at my pathetic sight,” seizing this opportunity firmly she lamented further. “I am the most diligent worker. I go hungry for long hours and work . Many times, I complete my colleagues’ share of work too.”
The lady Principal was overcome with sympathy. There was another school which was supposed to commence from the next academic year. If she played her cards right, she knew she’d land herself in a new job.
“There’s another school being built nearby, I have contacts there. A new job, a new designation as a teacher with a better pay packet will be yours. Don’t worry!” She knew that this would head in exactly the same direction as planned. So, here she was!
In these years, she had eked out a comfortable life style for herself. But was careful to dress in the sloppy manner that was so her! The biggest achievement was buying an apartment. her confidence too had manifested into a hugely blown chauvinism. The new school, as she remembered was quite accommodating of her in-capacities. Her influential entry had secured her position. Her lacuna in talent, subject knowledge and the incapacity to be a team worker had all gone unnoticed. Her uncanny ability to find scapegoats for covering up her lacuna had always excelled. Until,the school expanded and brought in newer and younger employees. If at all there was some threat to her job, it was from Ritu and the others. With the entry of Ritu in her department, Triveni’s existence had paled. She had a general appeal that fused with the others. However, Triveni was repulsed.
“Hey! Are you okay?” Asked Sneha who pulled the chair beside her. “You seem lost in profound thoughts!” Said Sneha in a jovial tone. Triveni bolted back to reality. “Why? Don’t I have the right to think?” She retorted in a loud, icy tone.
Her garrulous nature took charge. She stormed out of the place. Sneha shrugged off her feeling of contempt and returned to her place.
Triveni hovered near the Principal’s cabin. This was where she loved to be most of the times. It was very important to look busy in front of the boss! She created an opportunity to enter the cabin and wiped her eyes with the pallu of her saree. With moist eyes she said “My colleagues are the most insensitive lot, I haven’t had a morsel to eat since morning, I was busy with a lot of exclusive work. They find pleasure in mocking me. It’s impossible to be in peace there.”
She finished her stretched monologue without gulping even one breath of air. The Principal was flabbergasted! He knew she was a complaint box, a pack of lies personified but was helpless. There was no rule in the book which stated that liars, manipulators,trouble creators should be shown the gates. He blocked her out of his mind and told her that he would look into the matter.
She emerged out of the cabin and made sure that she wasn’t seen. She was aware of the reputation that she held. The reputation of marring others’ reputation, the reputation of presenting herself as an extraordinarily talented personality, the reputation of contradicting what she ardently read in the hymns of the Hindu Gods. The sweet smell of corn wafted through the air. This aroused her buds which salivated profusely.
The stairs led down to the canteen. She took them one at a time.
A five year old Triveni appeared before her. The steps led down her memory lane. Her cousin Priya skipped alongwith her. “We’ll race grandpa, the winner should get a chocolate.” Said Priya. Grandpa adored his granddaughters. They ran gaily , like two daisies prancing in the wind. Priya won the race. She was turning around to shout out to grandpa, when Triveni fell beside her, ripped off her own skirt and started crying. Priya stood rooted to the spot. Grandpa approached them and carried little Triveni, wiped her tears and consoled her. The chocolate made its way from his hands to Triveni’s bawling mouth. Priya’s victory was buried in the dust. Triveni handed out a piece of the chocolate to her cousin. Victory was hers! Chocolate was hers! Mm…. it tasted so good!
she descended another step, a twelve year old school girl passed by. Triveni envisioned herself in her uniform so many years ago, when she twelve and in the seventh grade. The final exams were fast approaching, she cast a look at her brother who was working out sheet after sheet of algebra. He was a hardworking boy. Mama adored him. “Sharan will make the family proud.” Mama always said. He was in the ninth grade. Triveni paced around from the room to the hall listlessly. Hardwork was for donkeys! She thought this over and smiled. Days went by, the exams were over . One day Kushali, her brother’s friend ran towards her. She wore a bright smile across her face. “Hey Triveni, your brother’s topped the class this time too. He’s broken the record in the quiz too. You’re a lucky girl to have a bro like him.” “The PTM is three days away, he plans to surprise your parents. So, don’t spill the beans.” Three days, thought Triveni.
Brother and sister reached home. Mom served lunch. “My stomach’s aching, I can’t eat now.” Said Triveni and pushed the plate away. Later she sneaked into her parents’ room to sleep. She also sneaked into papa’s wallet and helped herself to some money. In the evening, she told her mom that she needed to meet her friends and helped herself to a bakery. For three days she didn’t touch a morsel at home. Mom grew worried. She told Papa about their daughter’s strange intermittent stomachache. Sharan declared that the PTM was the next day and that it was compulsory. The next morning, Triveni wouldn’t leave the bed. The house was frantic with worry. No one was interested to visit the school. Sharan went all alone. The parents took her to a doctor, who was baffled by the nature of the ache. Various tests were recommended and performed. By evening she was discharged and was told to be kept under observation.
Sharan displayed his marks sheet and trophy proudly,but Papa was only disheartened at Sharan’s lack of sympathy and insensitive attitude! The stomachache continued for two more days and finally vanished alongwith Sharan’s happiness and glory. No one bothered about her poor scores, they were thankful that their daughter was fine. After that all that mattered was her good health.
She neared the door of the canteen now. She saw that various fruits were on display. Bright red apples, yellow sweet limes, pomegranates and many more. Food had always been her weakness. She placed an order for apple milkshake. The cook put the fruits in a big jar and placed it on the electric mixer. It made a loud swishing noise. This loud noise took her back to the noise, a soft humming one of the monitor that displayed the pressure of blood and heart beat. Her father had met with an accident. He was crossing the road when a bus had hit him. Locals had admitted him to a hospital. Triveni was seventeen. It was already a week since the mishap. Doctors gave no hope of Papa moving out of bed. He had gone completely numb.
Only the eyes moved and cried every now and then. Relatives poured in, bringing with them delicious looking fruits and bakery items. Triveni couldn’t resist them. But Mama maintained her stoic hunger. Sharan was even more exasperating as he tried to feed Papa and Mama the goodies. She couldn’t fathom the idea behind feeding people who didn’t deserve to be fed. Papa couldn’t eat anyways and Mama wouldn’t eat. No one noticed the juices inside the fruits except her. They were adamant on shedding futile tears for a juiceless body that was her father’s. She also realized that the relatives consoled and showed concern for the bereaved wife. The only way in which she could contribute to this situation was to help herself to the goodies and wail!
The relatives continued to pour in but their attention was shifted to her. Fruits were brought in especially for Triveni. For Triveni lamented the most! That was the best summer ever. This thread of memory brought a triumphant smile on her lips. She relished a plate of corn manchurian alongwith the milkshake.
The place was filled with young faces, few of her colleagues stood with filled plates at corners. Each face was lit up with happiness. Smiles and hugs greeted each other. She hated so much laughter! Triveni’s smile too crawled up her lips. It sneaked up to her eyes and they glistened. After all, if and when she wished to, she could strip these faces off , the ornament that they so proudly displayed. She was happier than happiness herself! She derived mirth from misery.
I was asked why I created such a negative character. I’d say “Why not?” This was created for the sake of a course that I am doing. My discussion with a friend inspired me to create a character which is not stereotypical. Enjoy the piece of fiction as a piece of fiction.
I have often wondered why some people are super achievers and some of us get sucked up in the vortex of stress , tensions, anxiety and many such impediments.
My NLP sessions with Dr.chaya Nair, (paediatrician, adolescent counsellor ) have helped me discover my potential, face my fears and reinvent myself. It is a well known fact in the present times to seek for happiness within oneself. To seek help from oneself and believe in oneself. But what many of us lack is the knowledge to do this.
We need a map to charter the unknown domain. We also need a guide to steer us ahead. Neuro linguistic programming provides us with the right knowledge to do so. I am lucky as we had the right guide to help us on this journey.
So, what are the areas that NLP helped me with?
To get a positive Outlook of myself, in the correct sense
To discover my submodalities and use them aptly
Reframing the mind
Acceptance of others
Goal setting and it’s importance
Face my fears, negatives and how to deal with them
To channelise my potential towards a healthy objective.
The sessions were replete with real life examples and healthy exchange of thoughts amongst our peers and the mentor.
The crux of NLP sessions is that it re programmes us at the subconscious level hence the learning remains for a lifetime.
Get up!! It’s already 7.30. I dug deep inside the pillow and pulled my blanket further, to cover my face. My husband’s voice sounded like a thunderclap that broke a serene morning. Next, my son came rubbing his eyes and finally both of them forced me out of my comfortable couch. “It’s a Sunday morning for God’s sake!” I screamed. After letting out a bagful of tantrums to run all over the house, I got ready. I knew that my day was ruined!
we drove for a while and then entered the gates of Cubbon Park. I was still sulking. My eyes wandered aimlessly and brightened at the various hues of green and brown all around. The trees opened their arms, inviting everyone to relax in the lap of nature. Mother nature was ready with a soothing balm for anyone who was wounded. The chaotic traffic, the bickering of drudgery, the tensions of meeting deadlines,the faces that mortify, all faded away into oblivion. These gates opened a new reality – A reality which somehow is mistaken for surrealism.
I was lost in the depth of my mother’s lap. My eyes travelled, taking in the pleasantness, when I saw an old lady and a child on their cycles. The child was on a tricycle. The happiness was writ large on their faces. Many others too were pedal pushing towards unknown quarters, but they seemed highly content in their journey.
The chirping of birds had replaced the sounds we were accustomed to . There was a symphony in this cacophony. They were adding specks of bright red, neon green, sapphire blue and gold to the green background. We moved on, I stopped to smarten my ears. They tried to tune in to ‘Akasha ve beelali mele…. nanendu ninnavanu…’ an old romantic Kannada song. The lyrics flowed like new streams from the far recesses of memory. The players wore smart uniforms,I felt like a queen being welcomed to her land! After they finished, little kids and many others ran to thank them. For bringing a dear tune to their ears. I was transfixed in elation. Many dance performances followed, the dancers looked like gandarva kanyas bedecked with ornaments and blissful smiles. We pulled ourselves away to discover the other surprises we were sure were in store.
Dogs ran at our heels, they wagged friendly tails and continued their doggy tricks. Under every tree we found fitness enthusiasts or a poet or a practicing acrobatic team or people with canvas and pallet trying to etch all the myriad hues into eternity. By now we were quite hungry. The tantalizing smell of corn filled with masala was wreaking havoc inside my stomach. We finished our breakfast of corn and a bowlful of fresh cut fruits. Our thirst was quenched by fresh fruit juices. As I sipped on, a little pomegranate tree caught my attention. The bonsai trees which were on display nearby had boards which gave us details about them. It was enriching to learn about the bonsai art.
Then, we leisurely sauntered into the tennis club nearby. The players were enjoying a hearty game. The special players on wheelchairs not only held my attention,but also tossed innumerable reasons at me to be happy and grateful. After watching them for a while we decided to leave.
I realized that we hadn’t spoken at all. Yet, in that unspoken language there were things that were heard and felt. These fragments formed an indelible mark in my minds’eye. I was homesick for a place, I was not sure it even existed. This is the place where my heart is full, my body loved and my soul understood.
My fingers pressed down against the rough grains of sand. My knees ached as they tried to balance the arch of my back and the weight of my body. Every muscle was screaming in pain but the eerie silence hung heavily in the cramped place. As I sat there, I thought about my uncle, he’d said “Do not go to Kavala caves at any cost.”
It was 2001. We had decided to spend that summer vacation at Ambikanagar. My aunt‘s house. It is 20kms away from Dandeli. We planned a day’s clandestine trip to Kavala caves. My cousins aged 16 & 9 and I embarked on this forbidden journey. After walking for an hour we were inside the forest. When I looked around, huge trees formed a canopy. It was as if we were standing under giant cauliflowers. The forest looked like a green emerald. It took quite some time to realize that it is the same earth we share even in Bangalore.
We took a thin path on which short bushes grew haphazardly. I felt the rush of adrenaline. I was treading on the untrodden path. The air was fresh with the smell of the first showers. We walked briskly and talked loudly. This scared many furry animals away. But I was delighted to see this little guy, a squirrel, hold a nut with his tiny hands and nibble away. He gazed at us with large brown eyes. As if he was welcoming us into his land. In his unspoken language he implied that if this isn’t paradise. There is none.
After sometime we realized that we had stopped speaking , the eerie silence engulfed us. We could hear our heavy breathing. The leaves rustled in the wind and the bark of smaller trees creaked like an old door. Our pounding hearts added rhythm to the other sounds. Suddenly, a shrill haunting whistle shattered the silence. All this reminded me of Zee horror show! We quickened our pace and finally with flushed faces we saw the caves ahead. Inside it was supposed to be a shiv linga. We checked our flashlight and geared up for the expedition!!
We took a while to get adjusted to the dim light. It was big enough for all of us to walk upright. The air was musty with the pungent smell of bat’s droppings. In the light we saw snake’s skin on the wall. By now we were totally scared and followed each other closely. Inside, it was so cramped that we had to crawl on all fours, after sometime we reached the linga. In the torch light it gleamed like gold. It was decorated with flowers and looked like a saint deep in meditation. There were 2 other caves which no one had explored. We moved on and saw a puddle of water and squatted around it. My cousin shone the light at the roof and lost his grip and dropped the only light we had.
There was profound darkness!! I felt the cave was closing in on us. We sat there in awkward and painful posture. I tried to force the scream down my throat. In that darkness, my short life came whizzing before me. This felt like a punishment to some unknown sins. Finally, my youngest cousin started wailing and broke the silence. We were thankful to come back to our senses and sent silent prayers. We decided to hold each other’s clothes, bang the walls of the cave and grope our way out. We were scared that we might enter the unexplored caves. After what seemed like eternity we saw some light. Like a lone candle in the heart of darkness. We followed and it brought us to the exit. We ran away without looking back. It was as if the forest and caves had conspired against us. We settled down at a clearing. A soft rippling sound greeted us. The stream nearby was playing hide and seek with the sun. We drank this elixir. The cool, sweet liquid washed away our thirst and our fear.
“I am celebrating life” said ‘Sneha’ my colleague’s daughter, gifting me a beautiful pair of earrings. She looked very cute with 2 little pigtails. I had thanked and asked her what the occasion was. This was the reply given by the 13 yr old bubbly girl.
This statement swept me off my feet. I had to blink away the tears as they stung my eyes. Sneha had returned from cancer medical center after six months of grueling chemo sessions. Yes! She’s as cancer survivor. Sneha spoke about how mundane and colourless her life had become, until she’d discovered that she was dexterous at twisting ordinary paper into extraordinary designs. Her parents had bought the necessary materials and she had nurtured this interest, slowly it became her passion. This was what kept her alive she said. Now she looks forward to creating new earrings and gifting it to others just to see them flash that dentifrice smile. I could see the sparkle in her eyes and zest for life.
A few days ago my neighbor walked into my house with a little jar of her famous homemade pickle. I couldn’t decide what was shinier. The sheen of steel in her hand or the smile across her face. “Aunty your kids are away and uncle is always on tour and you look younger by at least 10yrs. What’s cooking?” I asked. She said “beta a whole lot of theplas, kakras and these pickles.” She continued – with kids and husband away I’d started feeling unloved, there was no one to appreciate my culinary skills. Until my friends persuaded me to sell my delicacies.” Now I’ve become aunty the entrepreneur.” People enjoy my food, I enjoy their appreciation. My passion for cooking has made my life blissful.
She was the second person in a short span of time who had told me the same thing. I was happy for these people, but what they told had struck a chord deep down. I’d started contemplating on whether I was alive, or did I have a life at all. I want all of you to ask yourselves the question. Am I doing what I really love to do?
While I was in this frame of mind I was honoured with the opportunity of meeting Babar Ali. He holds the record of being the world’s youngest headmaster. He’s from a far flung village in West Bengal. He told us he was passionate about teaching. He and his friends played ‘school’ in his backyard. Under privileged kids not only joined in the game but also enjoyed it. The local IAS officers observed that this had become a mini school. They contributed necessary materials. Finally the government legalized this school. Now 900 students attend it. Anyone with a mere passion to teach can be a teacher there. So, Ali shared that his passion for teaching had turned into a full-fledged profession and this kept his spirits high.
These were all people who did what they were passionate about irrespective of the monetary value attached to it. For just the love of doing something. That night I was watching the idiot box when the Amway ad helped me spring to life.
I didn’t want to be that lady in the ad whose name plate says – lost a star guitarist! I didn’t want to look back at my name plate which would probably say – lost a passionate writer! It was then that I decided to extend a new lease of life to my dormant creative spirit. It was then that I walked through the doors of the toastmaster club . So, what have I found here? More than I’d expected. Something that money can’t fetch.
- A wonderful set of inspiring friends who’ve adorned me with colorful ribbons.
- Novel ideas to write about
- And that surprisingly vibrant self whom I’d forgotten.
Don’t look back and think of what could have been, look ahead and embrace what can be. Before signing off I’d like to quote the poet Khalil Gibran “Rest in reason, move in passion.”