Faces

From a peachy face of a new born to a radiating one of a teenager, one thing that readily distinguishes us from the other 8.7 million species inhabiting this planet is our face. The unique features bestowed to every individual are a biological marvel. It’s even more amazing to how certain features are carried on within generations of family, thus personalizing our physical existence in synonymic characteristics. The subtlety of human life has been governed by idealism of these characteristics, sometimes to fashion and sometimes to sheer enticement.

Though faces have served what they essentially are meant for, the human mind has created jargon to see faces from a different facet. Faces have long been regarded as a measure of one’s inherent values and quality, a yardstick for defining beauty and genuineness. Though one can only imagine to how such demarcation prevailed within the society, facial characteristics went onto rule and serve the people in different ways. We have been conditioned over a period of time, to judge one’s inner values by how they look. Usually, the benevolent characteristics bend towards the one which the mind finds pleasing. The one’s with not such sharp features are adjudged as negative and guile, abhorred in general.

Anyways, moving away from the negativity to the personal touch that the faces offer. Faces are like the barcode to life, wherein you are known first by your face and then by how you are. Faces capture our lives and our age. When we were born, we were cuddly odd shaped creatures with tiny minuscule features outlining our faces, but as we grew up, we distinguished ourselves further. Can you imagine the relevance of pictures without faces? I guess not. In fact, should you take pictures of exotic places which don’t feature you, you will realise that such pictures lose their relevance over a period of time and are ultimately deleted off. Imagine how Mark Zuckerberg would have survived had it not been for our faces. What would he have called the Facebook then?  One of the main things that he leverages through his multi-billion dollar company is how we look. What would have happened to the idea of ‘selfies’ had we all been a bunch of identical humanoids, barely distinguished by our girth, height and how long our ear lobes reach out. Life wouldn’t have been so much fun. In the movie, (Spoiler Alert) Oblivion, Tom Cruise finds out that the earth has been divided into sectors, each manned by its own Tom Cruise. The only thing restraining one Cruise from meeting the other one is a plot by alien to disguise each other’s zone as Nuclear Radiation Zone. Imagine his disappointment when he finds the other Tom Cruise, who too has an equally ravishing female accomplice and gizmos to go with. He is cheated of his uniqueness and individuality.

In a world with similar faces, the concept of love and devotion, reverence and unity would have been lost. We would all be the same, probably bearing tags with numbers. All males with the same faces would go about trying to entice females bearing the same face. No amount dressing up and fancy talk would facilitate chances of getting action in the night.  There wouldn’t exist a romantic notion of love at first sight, but maybe chances of love with unique numbers. Girls wouldn’t be curious to know how they would look in ‘that dress’ when they see their friends wearing it, and guys wouldn’t really be obsessing about the best friend’s girlfriend. The good thing would be that the concept of racism would be browbeaten into anonymity, with no major feature to draw comparison to, Obama would have been just another President, and Leonardo Di Caprio would have gagged Matthew McConaughey on the Oscar night to take the Oscar instead, so to feel how it really is to have one. In fact Mona Lisa would have been an ordinary women who struggled to smile while being painted. Life would have been just funny, if not better.

The Promiscuous Ladder

#FlashFiction

“Hey, you must have had a love life or a couple of flings? Now, don’t act all elusive, and let me on it” Sonali said in a surreptitious and seductive manner, as if to ascertain my candidature to be her next in line.

“I am not really that kind and get by just fine” I voiced out.

I was backing up against the other side of the elevator, and certainly hating the conversation we were having all along from the 20th to the ground floor. Of all the places, I had to be stranded in the elevator with just the right person. In the midst of the awkwardness of the situation, I found a rather astound me, staring right back at me through the mirror in the elevator. In the flurry of the moment, the color had left my face and now the orchid’s aroma was catching up my nose. Flattened and stuck against the wall, I wished I could just wriggle out of the ceiling hatch, maybe trample her over or disapparate the hell out of there, Harry Potter style. I wasn’t sure if it was my hatred for orchids or just the fact that her legs was cramming too close, steering in towards me, I just wanted to push her back.

“Wait!!!”

“What?” she exclaimed, startled by my innocent request.

“I am not sure to what really makes you think that I am up for it, but I really don’t want anything happening here. That’s not how I operate.” I stammered back.

“Don’t make it sound like a task. For all you know, this might just reflect on your performance evaluation.” Sonali sniggered off.

In our moment of candor, she twitched my butt and left me alone. There was a sudden calm and just that moment, we hit ground floor. As the crack between the doors slid open enough to let me through, I was out.

It’s one thing to be under an impressionable Boss and have her like you, but it is altogether another thing to have her under you. I wasn’t going to dole out to the corporate hegemony, playing it out to the fetishes of a dysfunctional person whose desire for power was so much, that it ached her beyond the sphere of professional life, leaving her dissatisfied all the time.

As I drudged towards the exit of the building, beating my internal desire, I quaked within, disputing between what was right and what was wrong. My brain told me that the idea was wrong and my action was right, my genitals told me that her intent was right, but the place was wrong. Clearly, men aren’t biologically wired to function properly in such situation, but I did force myself out of it anyway. Clearly, the ladder of success had let itself down for me to climb, in a manner I hadn’t sought.

Finding Yourself

“The day you find yourself is when you will find me”

With that line said, she left me to my solitude and miserable fate. As I stumbled to the ground, tears filled my eyes and her silhouette faded away into the blurring of the roadside lamps. Every step that she took further away from me was like the scalping of my heart, as I soaked in my sorrow and bled through my heart. For a minute I just sat there, oblivious to the gaze of those around me, ignorant of the sky that seemed dazed with the flight of my happiness, struck by a fate that seemed cursed and vindictive to my very existence, and a life I had become a victim of. I don’t know if it was the physical wreathing pain of a heartbreak, or the fact that her words had pierced through my heart, my chest suffered a searing pain. I wanted to get up and call out to her, tell her to how much I loved her and how life would be without her. But, as I tried to speak out those words, bereft of any power to resonate a sound, my lips stood pressed against each other staring at the glaring reality of the situation.

Staggering and fumbling, I dragged myself away from the grimness of the place to find some fresh air. I sat in my car and drove away from the eerie place of drudgery to seek calm, think clearly and weigh upon the reality that seemed so harsh. With one hand on the steering and other on the wine, with a vision so blurry, I sought something that was rightfully mine. Lucidity was now a novel notion, curbed by the wine, so I pressed on the accelerator to reel in the helplessness that seemed to swathe over. Finally, I reached a cliff that stared into the darkness, with blips of sporadic lights. In the past couple of minutes, from being a romantic, I wished myself a misanthrope who reveled in the fact, that lights of misery were now far away. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be, maybe it was destiny or maybe it was just my fault.

Churning the sand under my feet, I gathered myself to walk towards the edge.So I stood there, on the extremity of danger, staring at death, breathing heavily, arching towards the ultimate way.This is when I remembered it again, maybe this is how I find myself, so as to find her again.

Instant Gratification

“You have completely lost it.” the rapacious December Playboy issue on my desk spoke out loud.
“You need to get things back in control man, its high time you do” the TV remote control added on.

“Yeah. That also means that you need to stay away from that girl, she seems to be an awful distraction to your life. ” came a sound from  nowhere.

As I looked around to check the source, the JBL Pulse flinched. It then stretched out its hand shyly, and pointed to the computer. The Computer was rather rampant in defending itself, and gyrated about to shake itself out of screen saver. The culprit taking a jab at my girlfriend was in sight, FACEBOOK.

“You of all the people talk about distraction” I asked it.
“C’mon, the onus lies on you. I wasn’t the one who dragged you onto me, and had you slay over and over, viciously clambering over the lives of others.” said FB
“First of all, that just sounds wrong. Second, you are due for deactivation now”

Such was my irritation, that in a sudden blip, the screen went off . I didn’t want to listen to it anymore, and then power cord was just a plug away

Another interview, and another rejection. They weren’t mutually exclusive events anymore, but buddies who seemed to be too pally. Poor academics and a pathetic ECA seemed to add-on to the already near abysmal existence.

Except for the JBL, the rest of the folks had all seen me grow up, and now were concerned about the way things were in my life. It was only in the past few years that I had befriended these wretched souls, who were otherwise stationery pieces of the living room set. From an ace student to a grace student,what had gone wrong in the past couple of years, was I not good enough or was I too scared to deal with the increasing pressure. I no more juggled between assignments and commitments, rather left them all than just choose one. I have lost my capability to slug it out for hours and hours, to practice and to improve. 

The TV remote is right, I do need to take things in control. But where exactly am I going wrong?

I don’t think I have to think too hard along these lines. The reason sits right there on my face as I write this article, patience and instant gratification. I lack the patience to give words to my ideas and I want immediate results in the form of quality and good reviews. Patience is a virtue, when exercised reaps benefits, when abhorred leads to loss. In my case, my patience in pursuit of goals, combined with my love for instant gratification seemed to have swayed me on a different line altogether. My efforts are diluted in quality and quantity, my goals are utterly vague since I have no means to believe that I can do better. Since I no more believe in myself, I am here surrounded my bunch of unnecessary distractions which offer no potent solution to any issue in life. It’s like delayed reaction to problems as a means of instant gratification. Defer the problem now, enjoy the moment and who knows, something might magically work out in the future.

TV, computer and mobile are my best friends, while the books bite dust in the corner of the room.I remember reading that the TVs are like lullabies, which force the mental activity to zero down. In contrast, reading a book is more challenging, since it involves observing, contemplating and inferring. Like panda on streak, I have been scratching off work off my list, and making room for more pleasure than working towards a better future. That’s the disease of instant gratification

 

 

 

Dilemma Called Life

There are some glory days and moments of epiphany, when your life transcribes itself into something trivial yet empowering, that you feel enlightened. Sitting on the ledge across the park that day, I had that feeling. So, I asked the random stranger beside me a question just to work along that idea.

“Do you see the pillar, Sir?” I asked

“Yes” He replied in a quivering manner, clearly startled by my question.

Encouraged by his monosyllabic reply, I further added
” Well, then imagine a line between me and the pillar. Now, think of it as the line of life and the pillar being the goal. The goal here is death, and the journey to it is life, as you live it. If you were me, how would you go about such a journey to reach that pillar?”

“I guess I would walk towards the pillar, with resilience and fortitude bearing in mind the ultimate destination of life. ” came his reply.

I felt that he drew the question to be along the lines of his own commitment in life, and thus, hardwork to achieve success became the undertone of his reply.This is a standard answer, I thought . I am sure he didn’t really want to appear too candid with a stranger. Anyways, I perched him more, and drew him onto the undertones of my life.

“Well, Sir, are you telling me that you would walk straight to that goal with your conscious belief telling you of its presence right at the end. Don’t you think, it gives the phrase ‘ staring at death’ a different connotation. How would you enjoy life, if ‘death’ influences your path? How would you live your life, if your goal instills a sense of fear than motivation. ”

” I think overcoming that fear is what makes people successful and that is how the ultimate goal is achieved. ” he replied.

“Well, I like your view, but I don’t see death as a goal, it is just a destination. This destination is an inevitable one, something that is conceivable by the mind, but is accepted without protest as a natural process. Fearing it would be like fearing success. Success comes through arduous incessant efforts in life and is meant to be celebrated. Same is the case with death, the only difference is that we don’t remain to celebrate our life, we just celebrate it in spirit with our loved ones” I spurt out with an enthusiastic smile.

The stranger seemed perturbed, probably by the tone of my voice or just because his idea of a Sunday morning walk didn’t feature him being badgered by collegiate curiosity . Anyways, he chose to stay seated which was a promising thing. So, I continued.

” I meant to take this symbolism to prove another point as well. I see that pillar, so do you, but I wouldn’t just walk towards the pillar. In fact, like a slow cycling race, I would twist and twirl by legs around, run in a zig zag manner, to make it to the pillar. This is not because I mean to delay my achieving that goal , but because there is so much to life than death. My dashing through the park over the lush green grass, ducking down under a Frisbee and plunging my head into the sprinkler’s spray is a symbol of the journey that I mean to undertake in life. I wish to enjoy life as I go on than stay sad about the lost opportunities and relations.”

” So how is this slow cycling race going on for you, not in ideation but in reality?” He asked.

” Honestly, It’s been fine. I have come to believe that if not inherently,one should force himself to an optimistic outlook. Maybe it might not work initially, but over a period of time, when this optimism stays in your head all the time, it starts affecting the way you operate. Yous instinctive thoughts are more positive, and you attract positivity. So, basically it all amounts to more zig-zag sprints in life, without much concern for what lies ahead.”

With that we ended our conversation. After exchanging goodbyes, we got up and walked in different directions. I had been pressing an idea, not to him but to myself for I am a believer and thus, like to reinforce certain ideas by discussing it out more often than would please random strangers at parks.

Soldier’s Dairy #1

Flash Fiction

Lt Rahul Mishra, was the name of the officer whose charred body lay in front of me.He  had been killed in the operation earlier in the morning, trying to flush out terrorists from a two-storeyed hedged roof building, which happened to be the regional headquarter of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Hardly a year into service, the lad had been pressed into action in the valley, as his first tenure with his parent unit, the 2nd Battalion of the Bihar Regiment. His enthusiasm and valor had been the talk of the town, and this had only prompted me to allow him to lead a section on his own today. With 18 terrorists killed in a day, at the loss of 4 of our own, the statistics were deeply in our favor, it was only the heart which seemed to be giving away

It was like yesterday when this boy, the son of an officer of the same unit had walked onto me,a young Captain, at a party. Smartly dressed for a 10 year old, he had a very calm and equally bold demeanor. On being asked about his ambitions in life, he had a monosyllabic answer, “Army”. One could see the flair in his eyes and it wasn’t long since that day that I knew, that he was no ordinary kid, but a brave soldier in the reckoning. It’s been 13 years since that day, and until today, I continued to see that flair in this boy. My seniority and my age didn’t prove to be a hindrance to my being held in awe by the qualities this young officer had.

It is the smoke from the burning of the terrorist hideout which seems to choke my lungs and swell my eyes, or maybe the irreparable loss which grieves me, I may not know. I just stand here and wonder, how will I carry this soldier to his father, who once protected me like his own, and whom I had now failed .

Inferno

Ethics in life aren’t embraced by admiration of the ideals, but by admonishing the consequences by the failure of them. It’s not for men to be staunch and unperturbed by what the world has to offer, but their constant efforts in fighting against the lewdness of these offers, is what makes them great. In this context, I would like to bring to light the brilliance of the allegorical poem “The Divine Comedy”by Dante Alighieri. Dante was a poet back in the 13th century who bought out a very vivid description of the World of Hell.

Dante describes Hell through a series of manifested layers, which represent the level of agony and pain, a sinner has to suffer, once he enters the gates of hell. Through the conformity of poetic structure, he describes how and what does one do to deserve the ignominious wrath lashed at the hands of the Devil. Here are the circles of hell:-

  • First Circle(Limbo)– Hell for those who have committed guiltless crime, the ones who abhorred and objected to the idea of Christ, and didn’t vest their faith in him.
  • Second Circle(Lust)– For those who flee from reason, and let their lust take the better part of their rationality.
  • Third Circle(Gluttony)– For the ones who remain oblivious to the needs of others around, and remain indulgent in the pedigree acts of survival for just food and drinks
  • Fourth Circle(Greed)-  The ability to think was granted to us, to seek out betterment, but not at the cost of those around. Those who disobey these unsaid rules, rot in these columns of Hell.
  • Fifth Circle(Anger)- This is where the wrathful and loathing humanoids remain, gurgling in the waters of death.
  • Sixth Circle(Heresy)-  The dissenters and entrapped in flaming tombs, and burned through their souls.
  • Seventh Circle(Violence)-  Those who teach and preach violence, apart from the ones who engage in it, find their place in this circle.
  • Eight Circle(Fraud)- The circle in further divided into ten different layers, featuring ditches with stones, passed over by bridges. Corrupt politicians, sorcerers, amongst those who deceive for their vested interest are shackled in flaming chains here.
  • Ninth Circle(Treachery) -For  the ones who disregard ties, to betrayal of family ties, betrayal of community ties, betrayal of guests, and betrayal of liege lords.

In the very center of Hell, stands Satan, with his three faces, one red, one black and one pale yellow.

The beauty of Dante’s The Divine Comedy was such that it inspired artists across generations to portray Hell through his eyes.

Complacency in being competent

Like the wayfarer who stretches out to a journey of fulfillment, my inclination while in college wasn’t to the static environment within the classrooms, but to the liveliness that seemed to befall the environs outside of it.Thus, my presence was rather limited in the classrooms, as I spent more time wandering about. Passing through college like it hardly mattered, for I was a firm believer that it was the experience in life that mattered much more in life than sticking around a bunch of books, so I tried a lot of different things. It had dividends, but not worth living for. I was getting by, scarping through rather, not gliding by, which I would have wanted. From school to college, my life had seen a transformation wherein the priorities of life had changed drastically and I wasn’t the person I once had been. The ace student in me had been taken over by the nasty frivolous casual wacko who escaped things in the pretext of “not my passion , not my thing”.

It’s a curse to dwell in complacency and call it perfection. The mind fools us and affects our understanding of the reality as it allows us to dwell in complacency. I know this, since at a point of time in life, I allowed myself to be dragged in such banality, that to revert back to normality was not a choice but a necessity. While the ideals of experience that I believed in were not momentary surge of blithe disregard for strenuous efforts , I felt that this had to be complimented with commitment in every sphere of life. This learning wasn’t overnight, neither were the results. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When you kick around with life, life kicks you back. Some people understand this in theory and swearing to their mortal existence don’t play around with the wishes of fate, while few like me sometimes choose to expand horizons out of a sense of daredevilry and play with life.

I remember after having scored wonderfully in school and having made it to the best college in India, I was on the moon. That seemed to be the highlight of my life and everything seemed too sublime. I suddenly found myself as the center of attraction, being the topic of discussion and an adviser to all. Then came college which was pretty cool. But then, while everyone saw this as just the beginning of the rat race, and were all geared up, I was standing by the side watching people smack each other through it. As people tried different things, I chose not to do different things, and let that be the difference between me and the rest. That was a rather skewed logic, since the first year me was pretty foolish. So, I screwed up my academics. From 90s to 60s was the graph that I was drawing, and worst of all, I played it cool. I do have to accept, a part of me told me, that this is the level you get to be at and no where beyond. Back in those days I would get intimidated by one and all, and believe that I didn’t have what it takes to be the best of the best. So without being in the middle, I evaded the stress involved in competing with the crowd.

Somewhere down the line, It took on small event to trigger a response, a feeling which made me question things. A personal tragedy changed my perspective in life. I can’t say what it was, but it made me feel again, and feel that I mattered just like the rest and I deserved better. The crowd that I refrained myself from getting engaged with was no more a point of concern. In fact, they weren’t even the point of congruity in my life anymore. What other did with their lives wasn’t my business, hence how well they did wasn’t my concern either. I let them be, and focused on myself. I remember setting up a list of things that I had been missing out on, and set of a bucket list of personal goals to be attained. It didn’t matter if they were to be accomplished just then, or in a few months or a few years, as long as I tried. So, then I set out participating in things,attending lectures and finally getting to know my classmates.My academics improved, my confidence and personality improved, so did my health. The world wasn’t conniving to make my life a miserable hell after all, and my willingness to try was reinforcing that belief. I did well eventually, but the journey is still on. Everyday is spent in constant amazement as I stop less and do much more, keeping myself busy and relishing the fact that we should take on life to move ahead,since side stepping and watching the game just doesn’t make the cut.