To The Light At The End

​I opened my eyes to a dark expanse,

As if that dream never ended after all

It felt familiar, this place that was

Familiar ground, familiar air

I walked towards I didn’t know where

Slipping at times, losing balance too

Pitch dark around me, yet somehow

Deep inside I knew, where I was headed

It got too cold and froze my steps

For what seemed like an hour,I couldn’t stir

Helpless,I stood right there, shivering

Headed towards nowhere yet, desperate to move

Finally I could and I ran forward, fast

It got really hot, scorched me down throughout

I ran to escape it, it tired me out

Drained me of my will, incapacitated me

Right then it got pleasant again,I ran faster

Familiarity rose to its peak, and I came to a halt

Pitch dark became shadows, shadows became people

People I knew, people I loved

At the summit of it all stood my mother

Glistening eyes, and a perfect smile

Dark, was it? She asked knowingly

Didn’t wait for an answer, added right in

The road to your goal is never well lit after all.

New Year resolutions #1

​I’m not a believer in New Year resolutions ; after all, the New Year is nothing but just a continuation of yesterday, a precursor to tomorrow. However, I’ve only recently come to realise the importance of seeing every undertaking through, no matter how trivial, rather than abandoning it midway, which brings me to a resolution that could be called my New Year resolution (of sorts). The resolution to award myself some personal satisfaction by writing at regular intervals, for at least a year. And the first , most intriguing thing that comes to mind is, satirical human relations.

My dad is a fitness freak and always made it a point to drag me to this park close to home for walks every morning, while I’d put up sincere, whole hearted fights to wriggle my way out of it. I’ve finally come to accept the walks as part of life and don’t even try arguing. So during one of my walks last week, I saw a girl, about the same age as me, walk in the opposite direction. She looked at me and had an amused expression, as if trying hard to concentrate on recalling something. I found her face strikingly familiar but couldn’t recognize her. Perhaps the expression on my face at that very moment was the same as hers. The scene lasted hardly ten seconds and then I forgot about her. Perhaps she also did. Next day, she crossed my path again and yet again I made an abbreviated attempt to recall who she was, and yet again for the next two days when the same thing happened, but to no avail. On the fourth day, it happened yet again, but this time another friend of hers yelled out her name and the name unclogged that pipeline of memories in my brain. She was my classmate of seven years, or more, who had moved from the city and left school in eighth grade or so. I couldn’t believe she was the person I used to talk to on an almost daily basis for so many years, and now, we could barely recognise each other. It brought back memories of a entirely different incident.

I used to travel to my junior college by train. A thirty five minute journey that became a wonderful routine, the time I spent talking to absolute strangers. Nothing ever was personal talk, and yet, the topics we had at our disposal always seemed infinite. One of the best people I made friends with here, was a female railway official. She was visually challenged but that never stopped her. She was more normal than I think most of us are. She recognised my voice and I had come to recognise hers, seeing how she was a wonderful singer. Singing, laughing and talking was our thing, age was no barrier. This was one bond I’d have loved to never let go, but I knew it was short lived. However, four years later, when I was headed to my junior college for a reunion, by that exact same train, same time but different coach, I could still hear that most familiar hum from the other side of the partition. It didn’t take me a second to recognise her and I immediately switched coaches at the next station to go to her. She recognised me even before I reminded her, thanks to my loud cackling which she still remembered. We ended up getting down at the station and talking for an entire hour before going our separate ways. It made me realise, this bond had lasted after all.
Which brings me to what intrigues me; how do we decide who stays in our memories and who doesn’t? I could easily recall someone who strolled through my life for a brief period while I could hardly remember someone I shared a few years of life with.   Does the mind really have it’s way or is it the importance of that person in your life that decides? Life sometimes throws at you questions that are difficult to answer, perhaps, impossible. Intriguing, to say the least…

Legacy

As he sat revising his closing arguments,
The very same house of justice, the very same corner bench,
He’d ruled this courthouse for over four decades now
Intimidating and defeating each opponent of his.
Today he’d retire, ending forty years of victory,
He wanted the end to be victorious as well,
But this didn’t look to be going well for him
She had weakened the very roots of his case,
He questioned, she countered, speechless she left him
An opponent so tough and determined, he was in awe
He read his document carefully, yet inattentively
Constantly thinking of the course this case would take
Time passed and the hearing began
Judge acknowledged, jury summoned
He rose, calmly, spoke wisely as ever
Aware of the many eyes fixated on him
He said the first lines, and waited smartly
Letting his aura speak for him
Calmly, respectfully, he built his story
The audience increasingly growing respectful
Done, he bowed, and sat back, satisfied
Chaos ensued, talks about his greatness
Then she rose, calmer, and bowed
She spoke softly, wisely and well
Placing her case systematically with ease
Maintaining her composure all the same
She spoke slowly but intelligently enough
Rebuilt her story in all their minds
Her last bow was doused in roaring applause
Dumbfounded, the old man looked at her face
Looked at her through the judge’s speech
Looked at her as he ruled in her favor
Looked at her as she calmly smiled
Looked at her and she looked back
He smiled at her, stifling that rare tear
She walked up to him, hugged him tight
Inappropriate for a court room, but the daughter didn’t care
I’m sorry dad, you lost your final case
‘I didn’t, love’ , he beamed at her face
He looked up at the face he had adored for years
His love, now accompanied by pure respect
‘You are my biggest victory’, he finished, smiling
She asked, ‘Did I do well today? ‘
‘Yes, my dear, but there’s scope for better’

Cascade

I stare at the sky, enormous and blue,
Blue, the color of dreams, possibilities,
Possibilities, those that stud my dreams,
Dreams that give me the hope to fly,
To fly high, soar in the sky,
The sky of infinite opportunities,
Opportunities I want to run and grab,
Grab and make the most out of,
Out of my dreams and into reality,
Reality, the crushing truth of life,
Life is so small, and I need to live,
Live to the fullest and leave my mark,
‘My mark’, it sticks, and I make the jump,
The jump to soar into that never ending expanse,
The expanse waits, but I cannot reach,
Cannot reach my change of destiny,
Destiny, etched into my paralysed feet,
Feet that do not let me run…..

The Earned Reprisal

The earth under his feet, cracked up real loud
Barren, those trees, showed no will to live
An occasional bird flew across the sky
Parched enough to not dare call out
He kept looking up, into the sky, infinite
Trying not to let that drop of sweat die down
A field stood at the centre, brown, at the best, yellow
Spawning with nothing but dead, leafless shoots
He looked at his fingers, shriveled up and dry
Cursing those million automobiles strewn around
Smoke from the burning engines, the only other color
He woke up, confused, but with a start
He spoke of the horrid dream to his father
A warm knowing smile, all that he got back
Humanity, my son, forever has been doomed
A dream, I’m afraid, it shan’t be for long
How long before it happens? A decade? he asked
If humanity were to stay put, that’d be too much to ask
Half the time, my son, that’s all we’ve got
And then what happens? He asked, keen to know
Then? _A chuckle_ We’ll be woken from our slumber
The slumber that houses these haughty dreams of humanity
The dream that it has reigns to play nature to it’s tunes
To mess around with her, in the name of discovery
To tamper with her being, in the name of progress
She tried hard at times, to wake it up, mellow
An occasional high tide, a little quiver of earth
But humanity still is euphoric, proud about nothing
And now she shall repair, all that damage that’s been done
Punish us for disrespect, show us what grandeur means
With one elegant move, she’ll call the end of humanity
There it shall shatter, man’s false palace
Envy, pride, rich, poor, nothing shall matter then
So magnificent the aura, none shall stand a chance
Don’t worry, my son, about it, it’s inevitable
Nature shall serve us with revenge at it’s best

The Leader They Seek

This universe that we live in
Flawed in more ways than one
With a million different people, a billion different minds
A leader being all that everyone seeks
Someone who’d preach, lead the way to revolution
Someone who’d usher in a wave of novelty
To fill in those shoes,a person does come along
Willing to shoulder this responsibility, tough
Willing to be the face of this change everyone wishes
Willing to give the world it’s requisite due
Then ensue speeches, promises and all
Faith in the mentor, they instill
Faith turns to blind faith, blind faith to godliness
The whole purpose of renaissance lost there
Raising the man to divine levels now
Expecting from this Godman, supernatural deeds
Disappointment utter, when he fails to deliver
Faith being throttled, only pure anger remains
The Godman who bathed in the glory of their “love”
A desperate cry for forgiveness is all he has left
Forgiveness for accepting to be what they sought
Forgiveness for preaching what they sought to hear
Forgiveness for being what they made him to be
Forgiveness for thinking he’d get away with it
But all those cries go unheard, easy
The feet trampling his being, silence his last gasp
He meets the same fate as his predecessor did
The community calling fraud, calling him evil
The universe, now flawed in more ways than before
A leader being all that everyone seeks…..

Chain Reaction

A game with this name became very popular when it was launched a couple years ago, the plot being exponential destruction of the opponent’s items till one completely occupies the grid. ‘Exponential’ , was what made this game special. And especially in today’s scenario, exponential blowing out of proportion of everything otherwise ordinary is anything but abnormal.

Just recently, a youth was taken into custody for spreading fear in the minds of parents going into oral polio vaccine booths with their newborns by spreading rumours of infant deaths related to improperly inactivated vaccination. Not long ago, India was taken by storm when a person was killed by a mob on the streets of Uttar Pradesh, based on the mere suspicion that he was in possession of beef, in the light of the much talked about recently passed ban on beef. Though completely unrelated, these two issues do have one aspect in common. Hearsay.

Hearsay governs our opinions to such a large extent today that it is safe to say that it has grown enough to be labeled hazardous now. Gossiping, once every homemaker’s favorite passtime , is fast intruding into matters of great concern, jumping the limits of just being a pass time. What comes from one person as ‘ A pricked B with a needle’ reaches the end of the spectrum as ‘A killed B by launching a rocket at him, lynching him and then burying him and building a city around his grave.’ The funniest part? We do believe every single word of it.

Rumours and hearsay make up a major chunk of the reason why people take dangerous and unpredictable steps, from suicide to murder. With a hundred people voicing their thousand different opinions on topics covering a wide pitch, our interpretation of what someone is trying to convey goes absurdly wrong, most of the times a complete U turn. The information then propagates the way the listener interprets it. Every stage that this information passes through, it is subjected to such spontaneous moulding that in the end, everything except the punctuation has changed.

Look at the irony, shall we? Someone dear to us sometimes gives his everything to try and convince us of his innocence, that he’s speaking the truth. We pay no heed to these pleas whatsoever. On the other hand, any random person screams out random hearsay while walking past our window and we blindly, happily, believe it to be true. That RTI is being flooded with so many applications demanding answers is also an outcome of our blind faith. Believing in whatever someone says and not trying to find out the credentials for ourselves, and then acting upon this newly acquired half true knowledge, we are left feeling cheated, and then eventually looking for real answers and filing RTIs.

Exponential dissemination of knowledge, however authentic at the source, is almost inevitably unreliable by the time it reaches the ultimate recipient, if in any form other than that recorded at the source. Who is a better witness to the hazards of hearsay than us Indians? That we do believe in anything that is thrown our way is what is bringing us here, with social media bleeding swears for every eminent personality with no concrete basis to do so.

There’s been a lot of change in the past years, deleterious and otherwise. This, hearsay, is something that demands immediate looking into too. Until then, sift through your newspaper pages and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Coming Of Age

She was a tiny mass, cuddled in the warmth of their arms
They smiled at the sight of her, their worries, they let go
That sea of tears, hidden by the blanket of her charm
She was the only happiness that they’d ever know

She grew up,a naughty toddler, they watched her all along
Their sorrows never ceased, they just kept her in oblivion
Small she was, little did she understand what was wrong
The plight of the flawed human life, despair, under it, hidden

Years passed by as she grew to be a young girl
Apple of their eyes, which would’ve been sullen otherwise
They wore that persistent smile, shielded her from the dark world
Not much later, the truths she’d find

Another couple years down, she became a woman, mature
That smile they still wore, it still hid the hardships
Now, however, she looked beyond, she looked now, unsure
That smile which she thought was real, was but only curved lips

She cried herself to sleep that night, her whole life, she felt, was fake
Cursed herself for not seeing before, how they’d fulfilled all her dreams
The revelation made her resolve, to set things right for their sake
For this, she was willing to do all, overstep any seams

It took time but she did it, she made that smile of theirs, true
All that they bore all their lives, she made it all disappear
That contentment of this change, it gave them happiness, new
She was the fire that torched all their sorrow and fear

Those eyes that knew but only sadness, they shone bright that day on
She became their pride, she taught them how to live
They saw meaning now in life, anew, were they born
Her coming of age, was the best that she could give.

The Sin That Made Him

Can any one event ever encapsulate and define all that a person is? Washing away everything else that forms any human’s identity. And why is it that often it is the negative ones that end up being it? I don’t have the answers but these are questions worth being asked.
Even though this poem precedes my recent poems by a couple of months, it for some reason never made it here.

Wet, his red palms still trembled with fear
Wet from the tears of those apologetic eyes
That moment he couldn’t erase from his mind
That moment, when he succumbed to that vice

He had been trusted ,and loved  by all dearly
He earned a good name, though not fortune enough
They made him clean households, sweep, wash
Content was his life, content, but tough

He lived a proud person, proud of all he was
He knew his worth, but had humility, lots
They looked as he grew, in awe of his being
Content was his life, contentment and ease

With success and grandeur came a fair share of haters
Despised him, and wanted him destroyed, alike
Then once, it struck, envy with a motive
The worst kind, backstabbing, dark, vicious plight

That sibling he loved from the core of his heart
It was a tussle in dark, pitch dark
Survival instinct set in, a loud cry let out
He sat in his brother’s blood, he let out a shout

Wet, red, his palms trembled with fear
Wet from the tears of those apologetic eyes
He looked at his doing, and then those palms
His being destroyed, dead on the inside

A life time worth of fame, this was all it took
Not just to destroy, but to break and remould too
From a highly loved person, to a murderer that easy
They gave up on him, severed ties, made stories

A thief in his childhood, gangster now they said
To killing and extortion, attributed all his wealth
Haters without a reason, they disowned him completely
They took it as their right, to judge him so easily

One horrible mistake, they branded him evil
Would one good deed have branded him God? 
They judged him shamelessly,a human par their thoughts
One whole life to build, the palace of life still falls…..

The Rising Phoenix

She had pretty sparkling eyes, and a wonderful smile
No one prettier,he had seen in a long while
He fell for her at once, chose her as the one
Love, in his eyes, shone, brighter than the sun
He let it grow in him, that which he called his love
Everything else trivial, she was all above
He envied those she spoke to,a threat to his ‘love’ they were
He couldn’t let her go, now the time for it was here
He walked up to her, trying to calm his nerve
In a hasty, excited tone, his question, he’d serve
She looked at him aghast, ‘no’ was all she said
The nervousness vanished, his eyes, blood red
He walked up two steps closer, looked at her with intent
Drank in that beautiful face, and smiled, content
He turned his back to her, began to walk away
Turned back to her, as if, something to say
She screamed in pure pain, as he splashed it on her face
Evil was that smile, revenge filled was that gaze
Her skin scorched, she groaned and fell to the ground
He left her there to suffer, in this, pride he found
She lay there, helpless and tired,recounting the horror
Her heart, pounding, filled with fear and anger
She rose from the ground as time passed by
And then to her feet as days did fly
Months later, she moulded herself anew
From that horrid day, her confidence, she drew
She went places, met people, created a new human
They expressed disgust, shuddered at the sight of her person
She fought it all, and up she rose, strong, brave and tall
She made it her strength, which he wanted to be her downfall
That day was the last that those beautiful eyes saw tears
She achieved big feats, defeated all her her fears
Through it all, he kept track, of the outcome of his doing
The pride in him ,she trampled clear, this was her becoming
Every accolade, every praise, it slapped his ego each time
There he sat, crippled with envy of the heights to which she’d climbed
Just then, when he closed his eyes, reliving that beautiful face
A knock he heard, and a letter arrived, leaving him thoroughly fazed
She wrote in it, words of gratitude, minimal those eight letters
There, she charred his heart ,more brutally than he had, hers