{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


One of my self-admittedly depressed friend told me that the only way to fight it is to accept it. Later when I saw some people who were really depressed, I realized how my friend was romanticizing depression and wearing it on his sleeves. He also told me often that his feelings are hurt and he is very emotional, which confirmed my theory. But he had a point, the point of accepting. I have always found hope in the idea of accepting. I also associate some sort of grace to this idea, idealizing it. Its heartening to accept that your time has come. Its graceful to succumb and fall without grudge. As crying lightens your heart, acceptance lightens the struggle, things clear up and you see the futility of fighting the wind and the whispers. Grace of a dilapidated tree is just enough to remind that it was accepted the fate. It has accepted the rain and the sunshine. It may have even realized that they nourish it too, while withering it in the process. The wrinkles on tree trunks are sign of grace, not resignation. Its not the acceptance of the wrong or the right, it’s the acceptance of cycles of life. If a big tree can talk to a smaller one, it will say, stay there.

Back in the day, when the ideas were ideas, thinking was clear and fun. Now things are muddled up. Experience changes the simplest of ideas, either dulling or dazing them. Being a father now and watching my 9 month old daughter’s reaction when we eat together, I realized what an old song means when it says “aap khaye thali mein, munne ko de pyali mein” (you eat in a big plate, and give me a small cup!). I love the way she can communicate her displeasure, sometimes subtly, other time not so. She totally assumes that we will get it, and most of the times, we don’t. Babies always cry, don’t they. I love the bubble in which that experience exists, these ideas change daily when a new language, a new life enters yours. You listen and realize how stupid you were, and you are. Accepting that your pillar of understanding are so weak and fluid is a difficult thing. What can you say, if things change with every experience and so does your understanding of them. The trick is to follow it, not try to get it. It’s not about defining truth, but chasing it, and staring it in eyes, for fraction of a second. Kafka says meaning of life is that it stops. Bunuel says that he sides people who seek truth, but part ways with them as soon as they say they have found it. Either it is a continuous search or a full stop. I think Kafka knows the truth, but does not know how to live with it. But Bunuel can manage life. The acceptance that life has meaning only till you keep looking is again a difficult thing to digest.

One of my old roommate’s girlfriend, threw a birthday party for me, she wrote cards, bought cake and flowers and but the whole time she could not hide that she is uneasy with something. These moments clouded her often, which she tried to wash with odd smiles. One evening she bought those ready-made kits to make paper dolls, and sat near garage door fixing it. I chatted with her a little and asked about the doll, she told me that she used make similar dolls as a child. She kept adding something to the doll and saw it again and fixed it little more, all the while seemed disinterested in it. She was just distracting herself from something. She was visibly sad. She was trying, but cannot move ahead. She was smiling, but her smile was like bad makeup, it highlighted what it should conceal. I left the city and later learned from my ex-roommate they are not together anymore. He said explaining she had lots of her own problems to sort. Her image with the doll rolled past my eyes. She tried, celebrated other people birthdays, baked cakes, and fixed paper dolls. In the mornings, I saw her so many times resigned and angry, and as if to cheer herself she would take us out for breakfast. She was trying her best, but it is very difficult to accept your own sadness.

If I meet my friend now, I will ask him, does he think the same about some of his old theories. I will tell him more details about my ex-roommate’s girlfriend and few more poor souls. I will tell him about myself. I will tell him about my borrowed ideas of meaning of life and the truth. I will let him talk and give me some more half-baked ideas, if he still have any. I will discuss them. I will have a good time.

Monday, April 30, 2012


Lets me start with an easy thing. Before I start, I should say that things are easy because they are not thought through properly. Easy and lazy rhyme too. Before I get into this mess again and not write for years, let me start with easy things. Easy things are sometimes just easy, and sometimes even directly from heart . ahh, here you go, you sentimental fool. Can easy is just plain easy, without interpretation, without shame or sigh. Plain like green of leaves, smell of flowers, easy to see, easy to touch. Ahh , again…. Lets start again, My easy idea was how memories are cruel, and how they change themselves to patronize you. Easy. Childhood memories are a bully. My adult life is often burdened by the goodness of my childhood. When I am perfectly happy, a harmless memory of a childhood lane with two porches and a tree during dusk come running, fitting itself as a Van Gogh in an All state art competition gallery. How can I ever match that goodness, it breaks my heart several times over. Poetically, I even thought to saying if my heart did not break a million time in that moment, it’s a god-damn stone. While driving in perfectly beautiful New Hampshire, I am haunted by the goodness that is my childhood in Muzaffarnagar. I remember that day when I wasted the whole day with nothing, and it seems so good in retrospect that I can be sure that memories trick. As an Indian, I have never understood what coming of age means, I am more used to cutting chords and corners. In college, one of my friends told me that life around me has outgrown me, though he said much more eloquently in Hindi like a film punch line where it cuts to the birds in sky or flowing river. As he said, I was intelligent enough to instantly realize that it will be a constant part of the soundtrack of my life. Seeing my melancholy reaction, he added, I feel the same. A good friend can lie for you.

It happens anytime, mostly during driving, sometimes while listening to music or talking to people. In fact, no time is safe. My life have burdened me with a perfect childhood that nothing can top. It has taken its own life. Sometimes I remember similar events differently intermittently blurred and focused to hit the right note, causing occasional lumps in emotional fool throat. The other time, a present feeling of happiness, is inadvertently compared to a similar thing in infantile past and is declared faded in comparison. My present is sepia and past Technicolor. The imperfections of past are like an odd-shaped stone, all the more collectible. The sun was better, and don’t even get me started on cheap ice and soda. Those are the mascots of simpler time, the alpha and omega of pure bliss. June sun and those cheap icecreams. Ahh. Well, I should not curse them, or blame them so heartlessly. They might leave me if I bad mouth them, I fear that . They are what a funny face or a loving kiss are to a sulking child. An instant nudge to some sort of elation – a shortcut to ecstasy, a trick nonetheless, but a sweet one. Those are like pennies for that big hole in my heart. All are lucky pennies, but the heart is out of luck.

Call it the emptiness of our better worlds or the a hearts tendency to flip-flop, it all is so warped with my daily life that calling it names here seems like a slight perversion. I love train journey’s – sleeper class – but who does not love them. Even the smell from toilet in the morning from your berth just seems special (a similar proximity on an airplane irritates you). The best are the times, when other people talk about their pennies and their faces glow as the hole in their hearts fill with bliss of perfect and imperfect pasts. As they tell tales. As they tiptoe on past like sunshine on tree leaves. A pattern emerges, we are all doomed, more or less. The life always hangs on a slice of life – real, imagined, reconstructed and re-evaluated. The images shutter past. The train cuts through a green pasture, and stops at a deserted station where you step down to get a quick sip of water, all the while keeping an eye on the train. As the you finish and see the train moving, time stops for a moment before you run and catch the train. I am talking about that moment. Easy.