Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hiraeth (n.):

Homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past. (Welsh)

Apart from the dirt and garbage all around, everything about the city was deeply altered by time. Five years old flyovers which appeared aged and used, shopping arcades where nothing existed, open spaces taken over by cramped up shops and houses and apartments instead of friendly houses and gardens. My sense of distances, still threaded with the experience back then of the languorous pace of cycle rickshaws got a jolt when we reached an hour’s distance in just 20 minutes.

When the flight landed, my feeling of anticipation of seeing the city after 23 years got muddled up with my sense of identity. Was I here as an outsider who had once called the city home or despite the years, I still belonged to this place? Streets and colonies went past in a blur as I struggled to find and recognize the familiar geography of childhood. Senses were overloaded with the transformation to even recollect those innocent fun-filled days. Till I reached my school.

As I walked down the path leading to the main gate and overlooking Mother Mary’s statue, my pace slowed down. The school was exactly how it was so many years ago and like waves the memories came crashing. Memories and nostalgia of a carefree world which I had put inside a box and kept sealed. I asked the gatekeeper if I could go in as the school was shut that day. Something in my face must have softened him as he allowed me in. As I walked down all the familiar areas, somehow I felt taller and bigger and the school smaller. Life has played out its many chapters since then and this is where it all started, this is where my character began to take shape. When a knot began forming in my throat and my heart got heavier, I decided to turn back.

The house where I had spent the best decade of my childhood and the one which still comes in my dreams sometime, has been razed to the ground. The garden which I had so loved was a concrete area waiting to metamorphose into another cold apartment building. The orchard and the pond where we had spent thousands of happy afternoons, was now only a part of my memory. There was nothing left in this mohalla which I could remember or call as home.

Disappointment. Sadness. And a realization that there is no coming back, and the fact that this home was also temporary.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Day I Will Never Forget:

As I looked at the mountains from my room in Leh early in the morning, I knew for sure that I would be leaving the high mountains that day. It had been snowing in the upper reaches of these mountains since the past few days. But that day, the clouds had turned darker and come down lower than usual. Up until then I was uncertain as to when I would leave, trying my best to extend my stay as much as possible. Despite the bad weather, I understood that the mountains were permitting me to go.
When the realization set in, each second seemed to pass extremely slowly yet very fast at the same time. My mind was trying to accept the fact that I was leaving while my heart tried to memorise all the moments. As the minutes passed and my turmoil grew, it seemed that the mountains understood what I felt and mirrored it back. The car ride to the taxi stand to book tickets, feeling happy to find only Ladakhi drivers there, glimpses of heavy snow even on the lower ranges as the clouds parted, the growing cold, the hushed lunch with colleagues, the walk back to the guest house as the wind picked up speed, autumn leaves raining down all around me, the clouds growing thicker by the minute, the meticulous yet hurried packing, TC rushing back from a wedding lunch to say goodbye and calling me to open the gates, the sudden silence all around as the first tiny swirls of snow fell on my face and hair when I rushed outside without a jacket to open the gates, the goodbyes at the guest house which did not sound like goodbyes, rushing back to the office for a short farewell which did not feel like a farewell as people discussed the sanity of leaving by road on that day, the clouds almost reaching the ground and snow falling hard as my time to leave approached, the tight hugs and goodbyes to my colleagues said with a smile on my face and a lump in my throat.

As my luggage was loaded into the tempo traveler and I settled down in my seat, the sky cleared as if by magic. The last orange rays of the setting sun lit up the stray clouds that remained in the dark blue sky, as if the snow had fallen in my dreams. We stopped thrice in the first few hours of the journey, once due to an engine problem and twice due to tyre punctures, after which it was a bitterly cold but a smooth ride all the way. Once in the first dawn light, I opened my eyes and saw immense snow peaks all around me faintly glowing in the pre-morning light.

I felt happy as I closed my eyes and fell asleep once more. The mountains had spoken. I knew then that I will be back again soon.  


Friday, July 25, 2014

The Calling:

When the call comes, life in the city begins to feel like one huge lie. You see the same people on the roads, friends talking excitedly, families having lunch in expensive restaurants or going to movies, the guy selling idlis at the street corner, the auto-wallahs not ready to take you where you want to go, the locals still running 10 minutes behind schedule. All the sights which once made you feel safe and secure, now seems fake. I can almost use the word ‘maya’ for it. But then, isn’t that ultimately the truth?

The slow destruction of a life which you once thought you will have, the notion of a life which is just out of grasp, the real reasons that push you to do things that are not important, the fears that push you to not do things that are important....it’s the call which suddenly brings everything up to the fore and tells you on your face who you are. It also tells you on your face that you, who think of yourself as straightforward, are at some point living a hypocrite’s life.

For me the mountains are the mirror which shows me my true self, shred of all the false layers that I knowingly or unknowingly have put on in the cities striping me to the bare bones.  For me, they are the shoulders where I can lay my mind filled with chaos to rest. For me, they are the ones which keep me tied to the existence of my life.

And when the call comes, everything ceases to matter. The only thing that matters is that you Have to go.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

The Selfie:

Whose image are you staring at? Is that you or is that somebody who you want others to believe you are? You live your whole life chasing an image, enhancing it, doing things which the person in the image would do if he/she were to actually exist. Your relationships are based on what that person would want, you keep ‘friends’ who will make you look good. No, you are not capable of falling in love because love is spontaneous, from the heart. It cannot be created like that image. Even if it stares at your face, you choose to look away. By the end you forget who you really were born to be. Because I am sure none of us are born to be an image of an ‘other’.  

Why is it so important to define the ‘I’? What a torture for the soul to live within a frame instead of an exploration with colours, patterns, textures and style.  What a torture for the soul to be limited by one’s own perceptions instead of a journey that lets you discover so many interesting nuances of the ‘I’.  What a torture for the soul to be surrounded by well defined similar images as a support system instead of letting your heart find the resonance of its music in others.

Imagine in the end the kaleidoscope that could be your own unique life. Or a brilliant work of art with its particular dashes of shades and colours all of your own.

And in that true life, there would also be me, painting along with you on the way.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Race:

It is beautiful still
It was a race
Between the setting sun and me
I caught up just as it turned bright orange
With red flecks and saw it slip behind a hill
I glimpsed upon its reflection
On the misty waters of a quiet lake below
I turned with a sign
To the far horizon on the other side
Where a flimsy orange moon
Was getting bolder by the minute
I lay there on top of a hill
Caught between a setting sun and a rising moon
The wind rushing past my ears
And a tranquil unmoving silence all around
It was painful
This unhurried beauty
The mind was in a chaos
Afraid of the future
Till what time, till what time
I asked the darkening sky
The stars sparkled
The moon beamed a golden surreal light
I fell silent
Yes, it is beautiful still