Rest in Peace

Today I lost someone really close to my heart, someone whom I looked upto and had shared great memories with during my childhood. Though he was just another officer among the many in my Dad’s Unit, he was like a family member to us. As he is now gone, I wish to pay him a tribute by means of this letter. So here it goes:

Dearest Gautam Uncle,

I can’t tell you to how cheated I feel, for destiny has cheated me of your blessings and your company. When I heard the news today morning, I was misled into believing that you had just met with an accident and were hospitalized, leaving a shred of hope for me to pray for your recovery. What I wasn’t told was that you had left us the very minute of that accident, and had attained the heavenly abode . I don’t blame Dad for keeping the news from me, as I know he was just trying to protect me. He knew how closely knit we were as a family and that the news would break me. As a matter of fact, it actually did. Since morning, my laptop screen is stuck to your facebook page, which has messages from loved ones pouring in. I somehow didn’t have the courage to put in a few words myself, so I just stared on. I can’t think about what Aunty and your sweet little daughters must be going through, but I know this that your family is my family, so you shan’t worry.

It’s the part of being in the Army fraternity which makes you complacent towards death. It is like staring at death so often that you get quite bored of it after a point of time. But you fail to account for the fact, that when death actually strikes your loved ones, what would you do. I have never lost someone so close to me as you were. Hence, I am a little sad, a little heartbroken. It is hard digesting the fact that someone you knew so well, and met so often shall not be there for the remainder of your life. You will never hear their voice again, nor will you ever see them again. I flinch at the thought of what the ‘ Unit Get Togethers’ would look like without you quipping in , or how our family trips would be like without you being there.

You were always my favourite in the Unit and you were my go to guy for all the ‘masti’ in the boring Unit parties in Ranchi. As I grew up a little, and you grew older, you were still my favourite. When we were in Hyderabad, you were still as crazy as ever, inspite of becoming a proud father and having more responsibilities. I knew that my weekends would always involve chilling out at your place, and somehow that made me really look forward to them. For the voracious eaters we were, you were my source of all the different non-veg cuisines around in Hyderabad. From being driven around in your car to bouncing around at the Unit’s Basketball court with you, I have one to many memories with you which I can never forget. Now, I am 21 years old, still struck by the magnificence of the Colonel who was an ace at Golf, and could beat anyone down in a game on one-on-one at basketball. Words can’t describe to how terribly I will miss you, but then to what we have been taught by you and the likes of you, Soldiers and their families must learn to move on.

RIP Colonel Yogesh Kumar Gautam,

3rd Batallion the Bihar Regiment,

Indian Army

Died in Jammu & Kashmir

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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.

Stand Tall, Stand Alone

Through the dark alley, making headway into the arena, walking slowly towards towards the white light, he finally walked into the howling and chirping crowd as people jeered for a revolution. Some had a smug face and grimaced as the Black man walked into the field to play, while others like him waited in anticipation for the magic to begin. This was the year 1947, and the baseball player in mention was Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball.

Today I saw the movie “42”, a biopic on Jackie Robinson and his seamless tryst to vindicate a black man’s right to live. The movie was more than inspirational, as it didn’t only made me think about making concerted efforts towards doing what I love, it showcased beautifully to how hurdles and obstacles which lynch onto our strides are best trampled upon, and shouldn’t be heeded to. Here is a summary of the success mantra that Jackie had to teach us:-

  • Listen to critics to learn, not to burn.- As Jackie walked out of the dugout onto the field, there howled another player from the opposition, slandering and making racial slurs, to distract and defame him. Jackie maintained his posture and focus as he eventually went onto win the game for his team, the Dodgers.
  • When the world is against you, walk with a smile– There were many instances wherein the moment Jackie would walk onto the field, the stadium would erupt with boos and discriminatory shouts, but he would play on regardless. For people, seeing a black man play the same game was insulting to the sport, and something to be frowned upon. Few were racist, the others just acted due to the pressure created by the atmosphere.
  • Keep your family close and together– Inspite of how the world treated him, Jackie never forgot the fact that this wasn’t just about him, but the entire race. He drudged and toiled through misery, but what kept him going was his family which helped him through.
  • Fight for yourself and the world will fight for you– As Jackie gets hit on the head by one high pitched ball, he finds his entire team on the field on a physical rampage against the other team for an intentional act to harm him.

As the movie goes on , there comes in a beautiful line of thought, which elaborates on the idea of  “Sympathy”. We all know the term and we all know its physical and emotional ramifications. Yet, we choose to ignore what it really stands for. It comes from Greek, and means “i suffer with you”. When I say that I sympathize with you, I not only mean that I feel sorry for you, but to what afflicts you,in turn bothers me. I hence, can’t stand to see you in pain, so I suffer.

Talking to a Wall

Lately I have been surrounded by people who in epilogues of daily parlance feature as “brick walls”. Yes, the analogy is right and doesn’t correlate to walls in respect of their toughness. Rather, this is meant to connote those with have fixated opinions, with clogged minds and are obstinate enough so as to completely disregard opinions of others.

Here is another example elucidate this concept further. When you shoot a bullet, or throw something at a wall, the tendency of the bullet or object to ricochet exists. But, the direction of the same isn’t something that might be  contemplated, for the bullet might just lodge itself into the wall or bounce back in any direction depending on the texture and evenness of the wall. Similarly, “wally” people have the ability to digest few things or hit back without much reverence. There is no pattern. Similar in this regard is when you go on top of a mountain and shout out loud into the valley. The echo might fascinate you, but the idea of the example is to showcase how receptive “wall-kind” people are. If you shout out a sentence into the valley, you will surely here yourself. But you might just notice, that the entire sentence isn’t the part being recited, rather just the last part . The gist of the matter is lost to the surrounding and only what is hailed last stands out. Similarly, “wally” people are receptive to very less, and are generous in giving back answers. They place keywords of a conversation, differently and give back answers without much ado.There doesn’t really remain much field to draw in reason but only a wordplay of jargon being shot at to establish a jovial juvenile false sense of superiority.
Talking about “walls” and not mentioning Facebook walls would be an anathema in the new social scenario. But having a wall to showcase your being and being a wall are two mutually exclusive things. One might obviously resort to posting ‘ I Don’t give a F**k about you” pics on their wall, but displaying that blatant disregard is a different ball game altogether. On FB, you use the medium of communication for dissemination of such opinions, knowing the effectiveness is limited and it’s merely a statement than an action. When it comes to being a wall, the foreground is set by rigidness and a premeditated notion of self-superiority and self-righteousness. It’s only appalling to think of such people, for when you become a wall, or start placing your ego before knowledge, you dig you grave right there, right then.
“Rather crumble away in glory, than be painted upon by such hegemony and prejudice. Lose your ego, not yourself”

Setbacks & Comebacks

 

Setbacks and Comebacks are two mutually exclusive events where one follows the another.The occurrence of both isn’t something sought as forthcoming, but is merely consequence of our reflections upon life and its virtues. Adversities aren’t noble guests which knock on your door, seeking permission for your attention. Rather, they are like a cavalcade of spearheaded humanoids which have blithe disregard towards your life and will kill you for good. It’s up to you, whether you want to be up in arms yourself on the other side of that door when they come knocking, or wish to present yourself as steak ready to be slaughtered.

But setbacks, as the term suggests may not always kill you. They will just push you back . It is like a litmus test of life, where the powers above test whether you will push back or not. Setbacks seek to present with themselves an opportunity for you to redeem yourself of your shortcoming and start afresh to a better beginning, a stronger beginning. As is said, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is in fact true in all regards. A person achieves true success not while envisaging a dreamy future, but whilst he battles in the face of adversity. Not everybody will have a Eureka moment while rejoicing in a bathtub. Troubles might trip you, bethrow you, but that is when you learn, you learn to be better, to be stronger; you learn that you don’t know everything there is to know, but atleast wish to try, for a life a ignorance and comfort isn’t a life lived, it isn’t a life at all.

You then make a comeback and seek greatness, when you realize that you aren’t infallible, when the blood gushing through your wounds, emotional or physical, prove testament to your mortality. You learn to grow up from your frailty and wish to be better, wish not for you past to erase itself, but just wish, that when the time comes, you have the courage to face it all over again. You learn not to regret, for you are nothing but a silhouette of emptiness without your experiences. It is when you hit rock bottom in life, do you stop digging and for a change, look up and see the light that swathes over. It is not the light of intellectualism nor is it the light of culmination, it is the light of reality which has now struck you hard and shaken you out of your complacency. It is when your self esteem can’t wither away more, there is only one way to go and that way is the way up. So jump on it and rise towards glory. This reminds of a beautiful poem by the late author Maya Angelou, ” Still I rise”.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.