Monday, June 06, 2005

The Traveler

Yesterday was my uncle’s funeral. It was a somber affair as funerals are in this or any part of the world. All who knew him from kinsmen to the ‘paper guy’ showed up as they do only in this part of the world. They were there to console a family that they only knew too well would be inconsolable and they would not have expected or tolerated anything less. The family (read as uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, cousins, distant cousins, cousins of distant cousins and their ‘paper guy’ who is some how related to them through the bloodline) on the other hand, had high expectations to live up to. How would it reflect on them if they did not mourn the death of their dear one with raving hysterics of pain and with flowing tears? Tears, whose flow could have only been sustained by unrelenting resolve driven by the pressure to conform and the river Ganges. This was necessary as any deficiency of the fan fare could be construed as anything from a lack of love for the deceased to a bitter hateful rivalry and everything that lies in between. And by today the various interpretations would be out on the street traveling at the speed of light as only vituperating news can and that too without the aid of the ‘paper guy’. The lone mother, the widow and the children were lying in shambles to one side gripped by grief as only mothers, wives and children of the loved one could have been. They tried to come to terms with the loss aided in no part by the contrived wailing of kith and kin. Through all this my uncle lay in dead silence, for if he did not there would have been more than a few dead people in the crowd itself. He was not an old man as being old goes, he was just 52. Yet no one could have spied the fact by looking at the lines on his face that seemed to have endured the worries of two lifetimes. They betrayed the truly comfortable life he led, in which hardship never reared its ugly head.

All his life he had been a walking contradiction. He was a rare specimen of an endangered sub-species of man. I surmise as much because there was no other way to explain his nature unless he was genetically predisposed to be that way. All through, his greatest passions had simultaneously been his bitterest source of despair, none more so than his dream to travel. My uncle had always dreamt of traveling the world since he was eight. The only problem was there was nothing more he dreaded on gods green earth than traveling.
It seems silly that a man so obsessed with traveling dreaded it and it should rightly seem that way to any sane being. But to my uncle this was as serious a matter as serious matters go. From the time he was eight he had amassed a great wealth of information about the places he wanted to travel and the people he wanted to meet there. But it wasn’t until he was thirty that he had means enough to live his dreams, and it was then he realized that he was terrified of the traveling. Terrified of the part where the actual movement of the human body would occur from point A to Point B, source to destination, Hyderabad to banana republic or any of the million places he wanted to be. So much so that by the dusk of his life the mere thought of travel conjured up images of immutable grief and death.
It all started when he was thirty. He had planned a trip around India traversing a period of two months from April to July. I was ten then and the way he described the wondrous places almost made me want to go with him. Almost, because at ten, I had much bigger things to attend to than go on stupid trips around the country. Like the four hours of cricket I had to play everyday of which 2 were spent searching for the ball in the bushes, or play eye spy with that cute girl who had just moved in next-door. My uncle though had been researching and planning this trip since many years now and was so well informed about every aspect of the journey that he could have written a book about it himself. He knew all the roads and all the routes to all the places he was going to visit. He had snapshots of the maps, stowed away somewhere in that head of his. He knew all the modes of transport that could take any mortal being into or out of that place. He knew all the arrival and departure times, the fares of travel at each place, all the best places to visit, all the best places to stay, all the best places to eat, all the best places to not mess with the locals and even the day to day weather in all the different places he wanted to travel. So when the time finally came to depart by the train he was supposed to take on his first leg of his journey, he was pretty excited. Excited that is until the train started, once it did and began to pick up speed his excitement was slowly but surely replaced by fear. Fear for his life that is. A million bad things started tumbling through his head, he started to recollect in vivid detail all those horrid train crashes he had heard and read about. With every grunt and groan of the car he was sitting in, he grew ever paler with fear of the predicament he was in. As the train picked up speed, the rickety movement brought new horror to the already frail heart in seat number 32 of compartment number 6. “What a wretched way to travel this business of trains is.” He thought “It looks more like claustrophobic cage in which a kid might place mice and shake them around violently.” And as it dawned on him that they were as fragile as rats in a box, he had simultaneously realized that this was a card board box traveling at a 100km per hour (or so it seemed to him) and on two slippery metal pieces that were 3 inches across. As he realized this, at once he saw all the faces of all the victims of all the train crashes there ever were, and all of them were shrieking at him to save himself. My uncle tried his best to take his mind off his mind but everything he saw made him go back to the same vicious line of thought. Once he tried to take his mind off of it and looked out the window only to see the passing wires interspersed by the periodic pole. Even they seemed to make him think of death, every time they tried to rise they were suddenly struck down in their prime by the pole and they started all over again only to be struck down again. He was too distraught looking at them and looked down only to see all the adjacent tracks suddenly cut down in their prime and joining the track they were on. And so he started thinking about his death that now seemed inevitable in this noisy, rickety, smelly god forsaken box from hell. And at that very moment the worst possible thing, at least for him came to pass. The train started to go over a long bridge over the river. The annoying noise was suddenly replaced by a thunderous roar that reverberated from the depths of the river. My uncle almost had a cardiac arrest right then and there. The noise was so loud and terrifying that it seemed liked the grim reaper laughing right in my uncle’s ear. He could not hear his own voice and wondered if he was dead already but he was traumatized back into existence at the sight that lay before him. He looked like a rat traveling at 100km per hour on a great precipice over the abysmal depths below towards certain death. He wanted to scream but he was so distressed that he was cowed into silence. And midway through the bridge he heard something. At first he thought it was “yama dharma raja’s” (the Indian grim reaper) battle horn but it turned out to be even worse, he realized now that the plunge into the depths seemed much more inviting than what he knew was certainly coming his way. It was the fog horn of another train coming in the opposite direction. No matter how hard he tried to see it he couldn’t. He was trapped a 1000 ft up in the air in a cardboard box moving at a 100km per hr over a fragile bridge and his death was hurtling towards him at a 100km per hr (which added up to 200kmph worth of impact, funny he could calculate at that time) with horns blaring and for all he knew the train engineers of either train could be asleep or worse still both could have been out cold. My uncle started praying for all his loved ones and prayed to all his gods to get him out of this one. And in sudden burst of metal crunching noise and flurry of motion the other trained screeched by so hellish in its demeanor that my uncle wasn’t sure if he was being crushed by it or seeing it go past, what ever it might be he started to scream with all that was left in his lungs. A minute later the other train was long gone and they had passed the bridge but the scream did not abate, not for another 5 minutes at which time my uncle, finally convinced he was through the plane of mortal existence or dead in other words, opened his eyes to see every man, woman and child in his compartment looking at him in a pallid hue of horror. He got down at the next stop and he wouldn’t have the rest would have kicked him off the next bridge. That was the last time he ever saw a train from the inside.
It was a couple of years before he thought of attempting the trip again but only this time he was much wiser or so he thought. It was a mistake to have attempted a trip by train it seemed to him. “It was clearly a road trip i should have planned all along.” he concluded. And in a stroke of brilliance he ascribed all his maladies to the Indian railways. I was 15 then and was hopelessly in love with a square bombshell called a television set, and was planning to investigate fully all her intricacies that summer through the one channel she could show. My uncle on the other hand was prepared and rearing to go for his trip only this time he hired a driver who would drive him around India in his car. And as the day of reckoning came my uncle was as ready to get under way as the opening batsmen in the world cup finals that year. His jaw dropped open when the driver drove up to the house in an old and once again rickety buggy of a car. Yet he did not see much danger in it at the time, which was until they were out of the city and on the highway. His usually over strained brain was placidly coasting along for a while in the wobbly wretch of a vehicle. Then he saw the guts of a dog spread all over the highway and once again the gruesome thought ticker in my uncle’s head was set into motion. A collage of all the people that died in road mishaps crowded his mind. He imagined himself lying there in the middle of the road like road kill. And he thought “what a wretched way of traveling this business of cars is” he speculated in terror, “It looks more like a match box in which a kid would place a bug an shake violently” and it dawned on him that he was the bug that was waiting to be squashed by the millions of other bigger and stronger match boxes that were hurtling towards him at bug squashing speed. And then he saw a sight that one could only see in India. 500 yards down the narrow 2 lane road 3 Lorries (read as giant matchboxes) were abreast each trying to overtake one another and none of them relenting by slowing down. The result, a 10X21 foot wall traveling at a 100 miles per hour towards an old, dingy, shaky excuse for a car without seat belts, air bags or breakaway glass on a road only 15 feet across. My uncle’s heart stopped beating, yet his mind worked at a hyperactive pace. He once again calculated the impact force and was even in worse shape than before as the relative momentum of the buggy seemed to be overwhelmed by the three bullies running towards it. If only the driver could swerve to avoid them, but he couldn’t because there was no where to swerve. Trees were on either side. He was still wondering in terrified silence why either the car driver or the Lorries would not stop to prevent the inevitable crash. He then realized that either one of the 4 drivers might be asleep, or 2 of the 4 drivers might be asleep, or 3 of the 4 drivers must be asleep, or all of the 4 drivers might be asleep. And finally amidst the blasting cacophony of horns he resigned to his fate of ending up as bug soup. At the last moment one of the bully’s relented space enough for the buggy to barely go past without incident. And that was the last time my uncle ever saw a highway with the exception of maps and aerial photographs.
A couple of years later I was 20 and that summer I was busy courting the cute girl next door that I had known for 10 years. My uncle though was waiting at the baggage check in at the airport. He was waiting to get on the flight of his dreams. He would no longer have to travel in crude rickety land based forms of transport, he was going to soar like an eagle to the place of his dreams, finally free from the shackles of gravity and the rat cages and match boxes it implies. A couple of hours later the flight finally took off, bound for its destination. My uncle was peacefully looking at the ground that seemed to be getting ever farther and was relieved he was leaving all his troubles behind. Then he saw or thought he saw a bird blow just above the wing and the phantom feathered fowl ushered in breakdown number 3. And in a flash he saw all the victims of all the plane crashes sitting on the wing and staring at him through his window in portentous gaze of death. He realized at once how insignificant he was in the vast expanse of the sky. Then it hit him like a boulder that he and the plane he was on was merely a blip on some air traffic controller's monitor that was sitting a thousand miles away, An air traffic controller who was certainly not aware of the large flock of birds, of which the bird he had seen was a member of, a large flock of birds that no one knew was there, the same large flock of birds they were undoubtedly flying into. As soon as he saw the scenario he saw what could go wrong, the pilot could be asleep he thought, or the air traffic controller could be asleep or worse still all the birds in the looming cloud of death could be all on medication that made them sleepy. And so he looked at all the permutations of pilot asleep, air traffic controller awake, birds awake will mean inevitable crash, ................., and so on until he concluded that none of them resulted in a safe landing. And just when they were about to enter the cloud in which my uncle was certain the flock was waiting with murderous intentions, he pictured the crash only this time it was a lot worse than the ones before. This time he was traveling at 600mph with a few thousand gallons of fuel that would explode on impact. This time he was neither a mouse nor a bug he was a mere blip on a monochrome screen that no one would even miss. If he survived crashing into the ground face first at 600mph he would be burned to death by the engulfing flames. With this thought looming just as the plane hit the cloud and simultaneously a bit of turbulence, he finally cracked an let out a blood curdling cry of fear and agony that made all the kids in the airplane cry. And like the scream 10 years ago it lasted 5 minutes. The captain in the cockpit noticing all the commotion from passenger area immediately turned the plane back to hyderabad fearing a terrorist ploy to hijack the plane. And 15 minutes after the plane took off it made an emergency landing. My uncle would have been severely censured by the authorities had he been conscious. After the 5 minutes he had swooned out of his seat. And so he was taken home sleeping like a baby as if nothing had happened. And that was the last time my uncle was ever higher than 30ft in the air.
It took a long time for him to recover from his last bout with fear and many hours in the shrink's couch. All this time me now along with my wife(the cute girl next door) constantly teased him on his issue always snickering and poking fun at his ordeals. Finally he got the courage to try again this time he would try a cruise on an ocean liner. He planned and collected money for his cruise all through 1996 while i was once again engulfed in the world cup. And then the following year his dreams were shattered once again. WHY? Apparently a Mr. James Cameron made a motion picture called the “Titanic” and unfortunately my uncle happened to see the movie. And as soon as rose threw the heart of the ocean into the ocean(no pun intended) my uncle did the same with his cruise. “You know why all the people on the titanic died in their icy cold bobbing grave of an ocean? Because their captain was sleeping that's why.” he observed later as if at once all his fears for all those years were validated. And he stood there vindicated as a psychosomatic pile of pride. In his final years he had all but given up the hope of traveling but by now he knew all the places in more intricate detail than the people who actually went there. And one cold august night he succumbed to his weak heart a million times more peacefully than one of his manufactured scenarios of death. He had lived a good life and was a good son, husband, father and uncle. Now though everyone believes he's gone to heaven but i know better. No god or angel can ever get him to goto heaven, first he would give them a hard time saying he would not travel above the earth without proper astronaut attire. And then he would terrify himself silly by thinking about everything from solar flares to space junk, from meteor showers to proper escape velocity and would never leave. So in his death as in his life we can rest assured that my uncle the traveler would never travel more than a 100kms from the place he was born and raised.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Alone

shattered ruins of illusions sly
cut and scrape wounds deep
spent tears through hurt run dry
as we sow, so we reap.
friendship strong in shambles lies
victim of deciteful trust
faintly heard are painful cries
fragile being beyond the crust
a shoulder to cry on eludes
yet my hurt not dare show
for a being of pride secludes
as pain and hurt in dark grow
helpless battle with tears i fight
mangled mind and body thrown
abandoned child in the dark night
i lay there crying all alone

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Cold

A smile's memory distant
fades in the cold abound
sailing on winds hesitant
souls of ships aground

lonely in a world crowded
as signs of life elude
frigid dark hath shrouded
warmth where cannot intrude

invisible are the living
when blind is the heart
eyes are not decieving
its the beholder's art

men like phantoms tread
ashamed of a crime untold
wintry a chill they spread
their hearts within cold

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Salty Rain

Through life's thick and thin
you were my second skin
you were always on my side
in you i could always confide
now the inevitability of time
tries to tear us asunder
attempting horrendus a crime
fate's cloak it hides under
wether its a train you alight
or an over the seas flight
our hearts still shall rhyme
to our friendship's chime
but the poor heart cries
to come to grips as it tries
it cannot see you leave
a hurt it cannot concieve
as you give me a last hug
the hurt my heart cannot shrug
and as you shake my hand
i shall await you in a future grand
but for now the tears do flow
for the heart has to show
that in the gloomy night of pain
it has tasted salty rain.

Dedicated to "the chillers" a.k.a "cynosures

Saturday, July 17, 2004

A Soldier's Tear

A story written in blood
imbibed in the battle field
speaks of a one drop flood
a flood that would never yield
love once he did true
long hath that day gone
for once where a rose grew
a cactus now stands alone
envy he does his friends dead
for pain has he to endure
he awaits a bullet to the head
to end his life obscure
yet to a vow onto he holds
to avenge his angel's death
pain he shall return ten folds
till his last bloody breath
and on he relentlessly marched
towards an enemy struck by fear
for on a battle field parched
thundered the flood of a soldier's tear

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Momentary Lapse Of Reason

Love blooms in the night dark
ignite the flame with thy spark
for like a torch i shall burn
into vapour i slowly turn

At risk i put my heart
into your arms as i dart
though unbearable a cost
better it is to have loved and lost

im not stupid im not dumb
my tender heart is not numb
yet in this apprehensive season
love i choose at a momentary lapse of reason

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Discriminate

Oh brother what be thy race
for i shall judge u by your face
My race is that of humanity
a far cry from your insanity
Oh brother who be thy god
for mine is the the only lord
My god is the man wise and kind
one that your bigot heart cant find
Oh brother what be thy thought
for if u dont agree i'll have you shot
My thought is free of your monocracy
i dont fear you or your beuracracy
Oh brother what be thy disposition
for i loathe those who refute my position
My disposition is one of love not hate
for like you my brother i dont discriminate.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Pain

She knows not the anguish
that rips me to shreds
in her ignorance i languish
while the agony spreads.

on me, a love fatal has befell
heaven's sacrificial lamb i stand
with nothing left to dwell
but the cruelty in her soft hand

Torn to pieces my heart mild
by a hurt that runs bad and deep
i envy the lucky little child
with plenty of tears to weep

Its hard to breathe, yet I try
not a life, i live a lie
tears dried out i yearn to cry
eagerly awaiting the day i die.

My body wriggles and writhes in vain
but soon will subside my heart ache
yes in time i shall feel no pain
for remain there won't a heart to break.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Half Full

Frantic beings rush through
a journey beautiful and long
but traveller on this road true
runs like a sawn's song

The road ends rather fast
if time we donot take
beyond hapiness dont blow past
make space for icing on the cake

at the end we do realize
that its not a journey dull
for matter doesnt the size
when the cup is more than half full.

The Stoic People

Saturated by Things fascinating
oh what trivial lives we do live
emotions our's never escalating
never heed to wonder we give
numbed are hearts that once felt
with sorrow and pain at every turn
cruel is the hand we have been dealt
in hell's inferno our souls will burn
surprise and awe are words forgotten
for we have done that and been there
neither remain in this world rotten
head rules not the heart where
nor love neither pain do exist
in souls that once were heoric
happiness and gloom dont persist
in the hearts of a people stoic.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Surreal Disposition

An ensemble of thoughts unknown
through fear and excitment lead
to reality's edge faint, and down
the valley of slumberous a deed.

Through places and times strange
forth and back we move fast,
images fuzzy yet real derange
memories of a life past.

harmonious symphony of cacophony
discordantly sweet dreams do feel
from life's drudgery and monotony
escape through disposition surreal

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Raging Bull

The wind strong aginst my face
shouts aloud in a voice distinct
on thunder i ride at wreckless pace
pride overwhelms animal an instinct.

The heart of a beast grand
surely beats steady and slow
thumping through every land
air durst where to flow.

On a sojourn lonely and long
i head with this chaotic world behind
there is but no right or wrong
destination where, is but a state of mind.

The road leads on restless a soul
to glory unknown at the twilight hour
distant yet clear the wolves howl
in reverence of the bull's power.

in arms of the dark starry night
i ride on breaking the lull,
towards the edge out of sight
just a dreamer on his raging bull.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Benign Being

Hunger for death we do feed
with infant corpses lying around.
victims of boundless greed
with their blood wash the ground.

Life of lies we daily lead
treachery and guile or way
consuming more than we need
with knives we join the fray.

Blood enough there is not
to quench malign a thirst
like living dead we rot
yet truth we cant durst.

Existence is but a dream
in a slumber asinine
pain filled we scream
to wake a being benign.

A Moment Of Eternity

Time does stand still
for thy smile evanescent
like warmth in wintery chill
is guile in the innocent.

in presence of love eternal
tears from our eyes appear
reverence abound for a kernel
of truth so pure, so clear.

For the beholder's eye
we yearn, we cry
yet sight we need not
just a heart to try.

Tentative doeth we steal
a glimpse of divinity
and of beauty surreal
in a moment of eternity.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Love Unconditional

Bretherens of this wretched world
a love skin deep we are out to get
though bleak, the truth be told
hope there is for love yet.

The dark holds souls so cheap
a dime a dozen they do sell
yet some their souls do keep
away far from the devil's spell.

faith in a love unconditional
is but our lone chance
to ascend an abyss cynical
waking from desolate trance.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Rational Irrationality

Existence is but futile
without a reason for being
yet life we live in denial
of truth we must be seeing.

By ends we live and die
not the way of the means
to justify it yet we try
for we are not machines

Divine comedy of noise
this universe so chaotic
yet every moment we rejoice
for an existence so idiotic.

if no argument can refute
the truth of our reality,
it is proof beyond dispute
of rational irrationality.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Nasty chick

The web today brought me a nasty chick
she was using the f word real thick
she went on about how all men are sick
seems condescendence gives her a real kick.

But for all her holier than thou bullshit
where does she get off generalising men as retards
for in the end its she who has her tounge split
spitting venom from her lonely house of cards.

Yet its with humility i did respond
for she is entitled to have an opinion
its a waste of time for me to despond
over crazed rantings of the devil's minion.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Heaven's Scent

The sky dark the air heavy
thunderous dome does the roof appear,
windy and loud the trees speak
of beauty ye shall smear.

Heaven in thy grace the earth didst drench
on an autumn morn the sun shy hides behind shadows,
thirst of this parched land u did quench
blowing hither tither god's green meadows.

An aroma heavenly fills the air
gluttony our sin on a boon so fragrant,
though short is the glimpse you spare
thy scent delivers this blissful vagarant.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Oh dark night

Oh dark engulfing night,
silent and cold u whisper.
the once evanascent light,
flickers in thy grim slumber.

light is the mercy of thy abscense,
powerful and quite ur presence,
For no hell below nor heaven above,
hath fury that shalln't to you bow.

yet life thou awaken on desolate land,
for beings like me live in thy embrace.
shall u reign dark till cometh the end,
oh bastion of this nocturnal race.

So it begins

In the year of our lord 2004, june the 15th i declare this blog opened.