The Art of Caring, or the lack thereof

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The definition of a New World notwithstanding, there’s a distinct lack of care in today’s planet blue is alarming. Back in the days, I fondly remember the caress of people living in our community, be it a pat in the back or a stern look if you were returning home late, something that is missing like a sore void; like the potholes in roads that get filled up by rainwater during monsoons and look like extensions of the road as the reflection of a gray-ash sky, the problem presents itself in camouflage. You never get it until you have experienced it, on one hot summer noon when you come back home and don’t find the old lady hanging out in the balcony by your place, asking you about your health, or what time it is, or just asking how you have been – you realize that it isn’t the city you hate. It’s the devolution that strikes you.

I whine a lot for a guy of my age. I complain about almost everything, because in these years I have grown cynical of our species. I see humans butcher other animals. Recently in Bihar, I saw trained hunters kill more than 300 Nilgais, the largest Asian antelopes, just because they had become a nuisance to the local farmers. Without going back to the root cause of why these animals were coming out from the jungle in the first place, the local government happily gave permission to these killers who made this occasion look like a festivity. A few weeks later, another post covered how in the name of a Pegan ritual, hundreds of lizards, snakes, squirrels and birds were captured, killed and cooked – all in the vicinity of a particularly busy railway station in Bengal. Nobody batted an eyelid. Every year, thousands of rare species of birds, animals, reptiles, fishes are being killed for apparently no reason at all. The peak of these stupid activities are in the form of ‘pleasure hunting’ – a passtime for millionaires and spoilt brats toting guns and shooting hapless animals who have been bred for this circus.

This lack of respect for others has manifested itself viciously in our ability to curb violence as well. It feels like nowhere is safe anymore – you point a place in the world map and it is seeping with blood. Innocent people are dying, and men and women and children are being pushed into an atmosphere of hatred where they are being told and taught that theirs is the only way. The lack of compassion is astounding, and yet nobody raises their voice.

I come from a very humble background. My family used to be a joined one – an amalgamation of happiness and sadness. Sure, there were big fights every once in a while, but I couldn’t see myself growing up to be like this had I not been part of a big family. My family extended beyond relations of blood – from the old man who used to call me Captain Green to the lady who used to take me to school for twelve years of my life, from the shopkeeper who used to tell me and my sister if our mother had arrived from office, to the uncle who used to sell electronic items to an inquisitive, eleven year old me – they all became my family without me knowing. And today, when I look back at all these memories, the immense pleasure I get from them can’t be described in mere words. I owe everybody my sincere gratitude, and even more than that I want to share similar passion in everybody that I meet.

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The culture of not-caring has been growing like a plague. That is mostly because people do not understand the difference between privacy, or space, and the blessing that is caring. Nuclear families; pigeon holed existences; communities without any sort of communication – these are the traits of modern society, eating it from inside like maggots. A Durga Pooja a year doesn’t make you know thy neighbor. Empty houses in Jodhpur park are flanked by swanky skyrisers in South City, where nobody knows each other. Like the anonymous public lives of the celebrities, the common man (and woman) has adorned the mask of nonchalance. This arrogance is a propaganda like no other : spreading into young minds as a penchant for coolness. Forty years down the line, the generation X/Y/Z will lament that their kids are too progressive, yet they are as blind as the government I spoke earlier of. Without going to the root cause, we will be bound to our everyday cotton candies – Facebook/Twitter/SnapChat/Instagram, or even Pokemon Go.

The art of caring is learned, not something that is inborn. It needs practice; it needs enthusiasm and helping hands. If we continue to disrespect each other, if we continue to disrespect every other being, there won’t be any next generation after a certain point of time. This blue planet will become another speck in the universe, another dead rock – another ball of dust and rubble.

There’s still time.

 

Reading ‘The Vegetarian’

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After reading ‘Fruit of my woman’, a bizarre yet narrative brilliance of a story in Granta a couple of months back, my interest piqued about Han Kang and her modus operandi of writing; I am moderately well-versed in the art that is shock literature. Writing and portraying subjects that are often subversive are a good way to unclot your mind from the filth of normalcy. Decadence in world literature has been something that we are growing quite accustomed to, and novels/works like these are truly a breath of fresh air.

Art in general is supposed to make you think. Different novels or different works evoke different chords of emotions inside your grey matter, often painting your thoughts in a specific hue. For me, Murakami speaks volumes in loneliness and imagination of a creative mind. Kafka whispers grotesque thoughts with a tinge of sorrow that is planted bone-deep. Nabokov screams of depression and desperation, and then makes beautiful presents out of them. Tagore sings of the myriad kaleidoscope that is the human psyche. Han Kang – she throws all of these feelings away and shows you a mirror. Fictional albeit spectacular in its vividness, you see an image of yourself that is primal. Your ethereal supremacy dies into a shard of solidified blood, and the color is earthen.

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You slowly start to realize that you are not yourself anymore. You are but a being that is devoid of any emotions, a pawn of time, waiting for seasons to pass – growing up from a nothingness of a seed into a full fledged forest of dried up emotions. What starts as a pale dream becomes this monstrous manifestation, taking you inside its ravenous mouth, chewing you whole, and throwing out a carcass that is as ugly as it is severe.

This sincere representation of human life shatters all the barriers of fiction and resonates within us. A time when society is breaking apart, a time when human life is an amalgamation of several dystopias, a time where green is just a colour and rainforests are just a sad lullaby, Han Kang’s blunt ‘The Vegetarian’ reads like the grandeur of an epic, and hits you like a memoir of a fallen soul. It is a heartbreaking rendition of the gradual decay of our society, of our art and our conscience, and I am happy that I read it. It changed my perspective, ever so little, about how a writer should drain his/her influence from this world – just like a tree, sucking water and minerals silently from the earth, standing on its head.

Absolutely recommended.

Going back to the roots

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There was a storm. A vicious cyclone that smashed into the wooden houses and rattled the roofs. Children hung to their parents, shivering fervently — and parents prayed and tried to hide in the lap of a bigger being.

I was outside, embracing the madness.

Four years back, I had seen my grandfather pass away in a quagmire of events that evoked a frenzy of emotions in me. In a week, my grandfather was reduced to a memory from a perfectly old human being. I haven’t seen many deaths in the family. My only memory of a death was of my grandmother, my mother’s mother, passing away right after the results of my board exams came out. At times, I saw her picture, receded in one corner between the idols of Laxmi and Saraswati, a smiling profile, and thought of how futile our lives were. Four years back, when I saw the lifeless body of my grandfather slowly being pushed towards the furnace, people crying around me, time froze. In that frozen frame I was looking at the entire slideshow called human life, from birth to its death — and realizing that it hardly mattered how we tried to escape.

We all were destined to fall, one by one.

That shouldn’t give us a source of depression, though. It is just one of many things we can’t change, and the best way to tackle them is to live a life truly worth living. Even if you’re not living your life to the fullest, make subtle attempts to change one part of your life, doesn’t matter how simple and small it is. It may be getting a pet. Or a wacky hairstyle. Or getting back to things like nature, poetry, books, good music, good food.

Simple things matter. And speak out, for your sake, and for everybody’s sake!! You’re only making matters worse for yourself. People can’t help you if you don’t let them.

I am finally starting to understand depression, and the more I realize it, the more I figure out that it is not a taboo. That it can be defeated. That this fight should never stop — no matter how futile life is, no matter if we all one day end up as dead as the dinosaurs, we will fight against depression.

Lives need to be happier. Let’s do it.

Your whole life, a textbook of chemistry

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We are but carbon based lifeforms. Our

emotions are chemical reactions, and our dreams are

just a violent outburst of kinetic energy.

Whom are we kidding? Our lives are many-handed

wanting to bond with everything else, some

failing, some succeeding, some ending in

pyre, some in purgatory.

Our lives are innocent little sparks that drown out

after a millisecond.

Your indecisions are writing new chapters in a book

that you will never get to read. But know this.

A billion years from now, a museum of human

emotions will remain, like the dry canals of Mars.

You can rejoice that day.

Today, we’re the specks in a cogwheel, insignificantly

significant, but too similar to be detected.

Too proud to bow down, too cocky to

apologize. But the skins will shed, the

superiority complex will go away. That day

we will celebrate the lives made of textbooks

that became fossils for another

species.

 

Fool’s Errand

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Where do we begin, and where
do we stop? Love tangles
you in, making you care
for the minutest of things. Burnt
cigarette tips, Floyd on
the stereo,
charcoal black
nightgowns that look better
thrown off the body.
Yet you end lying down
on the bed, crying foul,
wishing for a way out
of  this
Phantom Zone.
Masks fall off the moment
you finish the book.
Realizing the chapters only
treated you like a fool, and
you thought it was a northern star
leading you to an oasis.

Aokigahara

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We’re collectively committing love and suicide.
Our glass walls have crumbled and the shards
made their way through our skins,
landing in our hearts.
They hurt like a bitch with every breath.

A bad poem this never intended to be. But
it turned out to be filthy foul, full of
rejected words and forgotten
memories.

The whole world is a silent forest, and
we’re little travellers inside sad yellow tents
waiting for our turn. The escapes are
narrow and perilous.

I’m going to strikethrough this line.

Rewriting from the beginning, I arrived at the valleys of Mount Fuji. With samurai swords,
the monks of good faith were waiting.

I was to show them this poem, and they
would build a shrine of humanity.

When this poem turned into Aokigahara,
I never knew.

Comeback. March, 2016

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I haven’t really read any new books in 2016. I started reading Foam of the Daze, the surreal love story by Boris Vian, but now the book sits casually by my table, looking at me with puppy eyes for attention. My days are spent in office, between multiple things I need to take care (because I’m staying alone for a couple of weeks), and between things that I want to do.

Like for that day, I drew a picture of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and it turned out to be pretty good. When I finished, it was too early to call it a creatively profound day, so I took to wordpad to write something up. But nada, there was nothing. My writer’s block was still asking for tete-a-tete that I denied it for a couple of months.

Maybe later, I said, and worked up a cup of tea, the color of which resembled a whiskey. Plus I was drinking tea in a whiskey glass. Because we forgot to buy cups for some reason. Between making chicken for the first time in my life, eating instant noodles of various flavours, and completely sucking at holding any conversations to strange people (among them a few very beautiful women), the week was odd. But then, all my weeks are odd.

The novel that I have been working on needs some care. I have been ignoring it for two months, preserving it for a day of marathon runs. Fifteen thousand words later, I feel I am emotionally started to discover the central character, and if I can continue to keep at it, the novel can be finished within somewhere around fifty to seventy thousand words. I tend to overdescribe things, so some edits would do the trick. But I think the result is going to be awesome.

A sea of words at our disposal, we become numb when we need them most. Like if you love someone, but you cannot tell that to him/her. Similarly when a relationship is not working and you can’t find the words to get out of it. Simple things are often very very hard to describe, and not many of us have the courage to say it when it needs to be said.

I came back to the blog after a month and half hiatus. I will update this regularly. After all, this is my second home, isn’t it?