Category Archives: writing

writing

Meet

Eleven years had passed since I saw her last. So much had changed since. In fact, everything should have changed but didn’t. Isn’t that how time is supposed to work? I still wanted to know her.

I would appear a different person to those who knew me in school. Now, I talk more, fighting hesitations for good. I had amusing stories to fill conversations. More importantly, I realized that if you just listen to people they’ll feel the conversation was great. Humor was my best friend. Sarcasm helped say things while keeping a guard on feelings. I preferred facts over opinions. Actually, I avoided saying what I felt, until that day.

I had geared enough courage to ask her to meet. We were strangers acting as friends. She didn’t like me. Nothing close to a certain boyfriend who kept calling her. While she talked, I wondered what to say next. Kept reminding myself to not startle her with questions. We took turns asking and answering. Bouts of awkward silence threatened to bring an abrupt end to the meet.

“It was nice to see you,” she said.

Here it ends, I panicked, “Really?”

“Yes!” She shouted.

“Would you have preferred to spend this time with someone else?”  That silence lasted for an eternity or two.

“I still remember your house and phone number. Those days, phone numbers were six digits. But even if they were twenty, I would have.” As I spoke, with little doubt and exacting details, she looked puzzled by this turn of events. I knew I had a couple of minutes.

I still remember her birthday, school bag and details which I decided not to mention, fearing it’d sound creepy. Back in school days, if you liked someone you wanted to know everything about them. You had to rely on your ability to memorize, there was no Internet. If you didn’t have anything to note, you kept repeating it until you can’t forget. This is how alphabets and number tables were taught. Perhaps, that is how I remember all this about her. Sadly, nobody taught how to forget. I miss not memorizing things now. However, these days I can start forgetting by deleting them from my computer or a website. Out of sight, out of mind. This couldn’t be done for this case.

“When I won my first debate you congratulated me. Since then, anything I write had to be good enough to deserve that handshake. By the way, I won a lot of them. Remember the Annual Day at school? We were made to do those stupid drills, everyone wanted to skip. I’d go to the art room. Once you sneaked in there. I was making giant red letter boxes for a play. I made you glue them together. You couldn’t notice but I had written your name on them. Clearly, the silliest thing ever done. Life isn’t half that fun now.

When you broke the net in tennis court. You kept crying while Kajal smudged all over your face. The stupid sports teacher shouted at you and called your parents. I wanted to hurt him but couldn’t decide why.”

Like always, I had no clue what she was thinking. So I continued.

“One day, we’re stuck in traffic. Then I saw you, standing on the scooter deck, in a blue saree. Must have been the first time you wore a saree. You looked wonderful. Later, when someone asked what my favorite color was, I’d say blue. I’d come up with these excuses to call you. Genius excuses by my standards. While rehearsals went smooth, calls met a fate worse than death.”

Finally, she smiled.

“I remember this day when stuck in traffic, I kept staring at you. You noticed and waved goodbye. I didn’t know what to do. I turned around as if looking for the person you were waving to! You made me act stupid. But pretending to look for someone that I wanted to be, I figured what I didn’t want to hear from you.

That is exactly what I came here to say. Goodbye!”

writing

Caesar

Last week, I was sitting with a bunch of old friends. One friend asked about Caesar, my golden Labrador. They always do. It has been several years since it died, yet friends ask. In school, all my friends knew about Caesar. Of late, I find it easy to capture nostalgia mother tongue, Hindi.

मैं जब छोटा था, मेरे पास एक कुत्ता था, सीज़र| कभी कभी लेटे हुए बिस्तर से हाँथ फैलाता हूँ और सोचता हूँ कि सीज़र उठ कर आयेगा| लगता है की जब जगह बदलने के लिए उठेगा तो पकड़ लूँगा| गर्दन सहलाकर बिस्तर पे जगह बना दूंगा तो पाव में आकार लेट जायेगा| अगली झपकी खुलने पर जब धक्के से नीचे उतारने की कोशिश करूँगा तो घुर्रा कर कूद जायेगा| फर्श पे अक्सर उसे सहलाते हुए बैठ जाता था| बात समझेगा ऐसे बोलता रहता था|
आज भी दोपहर को कभी घर पे हुआ तो, वरांडे के चक्कर काटता हूँ| किसी कोने में बालों का गुच्छा हो सकता है| बड़े ही धींट थे उसके बाल, कपड़ों से छूटते ही नही थे| जिस दिन घर लाये थे, वो सोता ही रहा| आखिरी बार जो देखा था उसको, सोने की सी हालत थी| उधर लॉन की दीवार के पास जिस दिन दफनाया गया उसे, इधर दराज़ से एक पुरानी फोटो ढून्ढ कर डाईरी में रख ली थी|
रोज़ डाईरी खोलने की नौबत नही आती| रोज़ नींद भी नही आती| अकेले रहने में डर नही लगता| सन्नाटे में पंखे के अलावा उसकी हवा से उड़ते पर्दों या कागज़ की आवाज़ होती है| हर पल कुछ बदल रहा होता है मगर इतने धीरे की आहाट तो दूर अंदाजा भी नही लगता| ऐसे में कई लोगों को झुंझलाते हुए देखा है| उनको एक पल भी ठेहेरना चुभता है| मुझे भीड़ में उलझन लगती है, शोर सेहन नही होता और लोग समझ कम आते|

writing

Wise Men

Imagine there is a village. It has people who work hard to earn a living. Among them, are men who do not relate well to the constant hustle. They realize that one does not need a lot to live. They do not need large vasts of land or hordes of cattle. The moment one owns something, it occupies equal space in mind. A mental baggage comes with keeping up with task of managing these things. As possessions grow, so does the stress of keeping and maintaining them. There is greed, envy, fear of loss and insecurity.

This changes how one thinks and act. Men who realize this decide to step away. They start living somewhere outside the village. They occupy a small “place”, eat simple and wear basic clothes. When villagers comes across them, they see a happiness that is mysterious. The lack of stress and abundance of time is surprising. These men appear “wise”. The wisdom is from the freedom they got from the perpetual struggle that others are occupied in. While villagers struggle, they are at ease.

Everyone asks “how are you at peace?” though they know the answer. Everyone wants that peace but they do not want to let go of anything. They crave a new possession, happiness. The Place begins to appear sacred to villagers. Many begin to move out of the village to start living there. With an increase in group size comes a need to organize. Rules are made to villagers who want to step out and join. Although, it began to avoid conformance,  the Place now demands it.

Many villagers want wisdom and happiness without leaving their life. So, children are sent to the sacred place. Wise men teach them. As years pass, the teachings remain same. A curriculum is established. Teachings are accepted and spread through generations. Initially, the teachings are given orally but later they are written. When speaking, a teacher can chose his own words and act a he finds suitable. Once books are introduced, teachers stick to them.

A hierarchy is established to govern what goes into the book. Changes are reviewed and become infrequent over time. So any individual that goes through this school receives the same teachings. The skill or greatness of teachers varies but the content becomes as sacred as the place itself.

If hundreds of years later someone questions these words, he will be looked down upon. He may also be subjected to violence. The schools, institutions and teachings live. So does the fear of loss and greed to gather. The teachings were set to help realize that more physical or mental possessions does not bring happiness. They have been transformed into a possession. People are threatened when they question. They think these teachings are at threat if questioned. In fact, they exist because someone was questioning when others were busy gathering food. They are threatened by questions and resort to violence. They hold the book close and repeat its words as a ritual. The ritual has taken space in their mind. Like a house to be maintained give stress. Forgetting to perform this ritual or not doing it right gives them fear.

What began to end fear turns into a reason to spread it.

writing

Shayar (poet)

कल एक शाएर के कमरे के बहार से गुज़रा
खिड़की से देखा वो कागज़ पे कलम रगड़ रहा था
उसमे से खुश्बो की तरह नज़्म उठ रही थी
मौका पा कर मैं एक पन्ना चुरा लाया
कोरे पन्ने ने घूरा तो लगा लिखना कठिन होगा,
कुछ पन्नों के कोने बटोर लिए हैं मैंने
जिनको जेब में सहेज के रखा है
गर कभी गुरुर होने लगे खुद पर,
उनको गिन गिन कर सामने रख लूँगा

writing

The Abilene Paradox

Can fear be squashed like a bug?
Jatin

Here’s a short story I wrote. In an Abilene paradox a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of many (or all) of the individuals in the group. Sometimes, the phrase “Road to Abilene” is also used to refer to this.


(Opens as PDF in Google Drive)