When Death Spoke…

death.jpg 

It was draped in a white cloth – the last piece of cloth, the frail, skinny body would ever wear. Eyes half-closed, a slight smile, as if he were telling the boy standing by his side that you have a long way to go before you reach here. Was it really a smile or was it the boy’s illusion?

He kept looking at him, looking at his chest which had been consistently doing it’s job – it was like an ocean wave, everytime, you felt this was the last, it would come back again. Adding precious moments to the boy’s life. They had pronounced, it was just a matter of time. Little did they know, that it was time that mattered for the young boy. He had never seen death before. He was prepared for the fact, that the body lying on the bed, was in it’s last few moments. He knew it was just a body. The spirit had already left.

It was a machine, which was running the last mile – cranking every ounce of energy it could muster to pull through, using every bit of oil, every part to keep running. He was amazed by how resilient the body was. The painful stubbornness to exist was nothing short of heroic. It was a humbling experience. A feeling of helplessness. A feeling of being a mute spectator, while death walked the last few miles.

But the machine kept running. Every time he would see the chest heave up, he thought “that’s it”, but then it would come back again. Moments of joy, moments of agony. It was bitter,cause he was leaving – never to come back. Only memories, pictures and images would remain – which would eventually get buried in the sands of time. He had never told him, how much he loved him. Cause, he had never known that death would speak to him so soon.

The boy kept his hands on the body’s chest – felt the heart. It was just a machine. But the boy was happy he was leaving – cause, he could not see the suffering and pain the body had been put through for so long. He did not know what to say, and,even if he did, would the body listen to him? He did not know. So,he kept silent.

The only sound that came in the room was from the fan that kept rotating – a monotonous drone.

Images from the bygone days flashed by – the innumerable arguments, the chatter they used to have,the scoldings he would get, the movies they watched together, the debates they would have,the games of cricket they played,the tears they shed together,the laughs they had…he felt a tinge of pain…all’s gone….

Suddenly, he realized what he would not give to have all that back..atleast for sometime.What he would not give to open those eyes, and look at him, give him a smile and tell him, as the old man had told him innumerable times “I am there, dont worry”.What he would not give to walk out of that room with the old man and play a game of cricket, or have a cup of tea…..what he would not give…

And then, he saw. The chest slowed down. The boy came back to reality.For a moment he thought the machine would shudder to a stop. But he was wrong. It was a lovely harmonic. He started to count the seconds between every heave of the chest. It had increased, and was regularly doing so.

He saw the face. Serene.The smile was still there, eyes half-closed.

The machine was slowing down. It did not shudder. It was like the ocean had lost energy in sending out waves anymore, and was slowly retreating.

The last few. The boy kept his hand on the chest again. Saw the face. His tears had dried up. He just wanted the body to stop. To stop trying. To stop putting any more effort. He just wanted it to leave slowly,silently – in the dead of night.

And then, he felt it. Rather, he did not. The chest had stopped. The waves had stopped. The machine had run the last mile.

The boy looked at the old man’s face. The smile was still there. Thought he would say something. Waited. One last wave, one last twitch of the eye, one last goodbye.

But death had spoken.

Falling in love…


…is so hard on the knees. So goes a rock song. It was sung by Aerosmith – thats the name of a rock band, in case you did not know. I am not sure why it was named so. In fact, I am puzzled by most rock band names –

Megadeth – sounds like a unit of death! Their junior band would be called Kilodeth I suppose!

Iron Maiden – Wonder how she would look like. All black and shiny , except of course, if she does not have rust on her. She is Iron, remember? And iron rusts – basic science, dear!

Sex Pistols – Now, what can I say about that!

Anyways, we could now go on with analysing all the bands and tearing their names to pieces. But I am not here to do that, am I?

I wanted to write about “falling in love”, and the immediate line that came to mind was ” is so hard on the knees”. Now, please do not get me wrong. I have not had any bad experiences with falling in love, so much that I have broken my knees. There’s only one place I fall everyday, and that is sleep.

But I was just remembering my college days, and I was reminded of an incident, in my first year, when a certain somebody fell for me. No, fell as in, fell in love. Cannot disclose her name for reasons of confidentiality. last heard, she was married and enjoying her state of marital bliss. Can’t say the same about the guy I think. Anyways, so she actually fell in love with me. Or that is what she said.

I do not exactly remember the events that transpired, before we found each other under a huge banyan tree in the park, but it was a sunday afternoon. And the park was adjacent to the bus stop. Not a very ideal place for coochie-cooing and talking sweet nothings, but then I was hardly in the mood for it. It had been around 3 months before I was beginning to find my bearings in the college, and I was surprised – no, confused would be more apt – at the situation I landed myself in. And all because i sang?!.

Yep! For the uninitiated, I used to sing. Not in bathrooms alone, but outside of it too. As in, not immediately outside the bathroom door, but in front of people . Ok, you get the picture i suppose. But that was a talent I was immensely proud of, and needless to say, I exhibited that with gay abandon when I joined college – during ragging, in the mess, in the classrooms, and of course in the bathrooms.

This became a hot topic with the girls in their hostel, and I was a star overnight – actually many overnights. Now, the bathrooms were pretty far and secluded from the girls hostel. How they could have heard me singing. On second thoughts, If I sang with “gay abandon”, how could a girl get hooked on to me!!?

Anyways, back to the point. In our initial days, we were a bunch of a few guys and girls who used to hang out together, and she was amongst them. I am not sure how the love bug bit her, but it did. Nobody, except myself, has ever related the word handsome to me. Its usually been – hmm, yeah ok, hmm again, and so on. And I am not a Salman fan either – never removed my shirt (that would have been a different story, or a no-story i suppose!). so, I am thinking it must have been my singing.

And there we were, in the park. We were sitting on the cement parapet surrounding the tree. She had my hands in hers, and she was looking at me. I actually wanted to look at her, but I had a myriad things in mind. That town is not so friendly to outsiders who come in and start making girlfriends. And they show their unfriendliness in a not-so-nice way – dead of night, you are dragged out of your room, and abused at. Now, if they were hitting you, it’s nice. But dragging you out of your sleep and only abusing you is something I do not like – hit me or let me go to sleep.

So, I was looking here and there, when she said, ” Rishi, I am really in love with you, and I am willing to wait for you”. Slightly touched (of course she held my hand), I looked at her, and then she said, ” I can wait even for 5 years”. Now, I am not sure even now, why she said 5 years.

Was it 4 years of college + a year of job and then marriage?
Was 5 considered a lucky number in love? Or
Did she believe in numerology?

Well, I never understood that, but brushing all that aside, I said, ” look, I need sometime to think over this. You are a nice girl, and I respect your feelings, but I cannot tell you anything now.I really need some time.” In reality, I had seen some dhoti-clad villagers looking towards us, and that was making me uneasy.

And so, I did a lot of thinking – over booze parties, over bunking classes and solving crosswords in the last bench. Then, one of her friends came to me and said that she really needs an answer. And with all the seriousness I could muster, I told her that I really am not interested in a relationship, cause I wanted to spend my college time on studies.

(Its a different story that I scored a 65% in the first year while everybody else was way above me!! But what the hell)

I saw her face, and I felt a tinge of sadness – she looked at me, as if she were losing me and all my love. But it had to be done. To achieve my goals, I needed to sacrifice something. With a forlorn look on her face, she almost whispered back, ” ok rishi. I understand. we’ll be friends only.” And I came back, a free bird!

The next few days, we never met. Though I was pretty sure of what I had done, nonetheless, a few doubts had started to creep in. After all I am human being too.

Exactly a week later, I saw her in a college fest. I was standing under my department, and she looked towards me, smiled and waved her hand. For a moment, I thought, ” is this a sign for me?”

And then, I saw it. From behind me, one of my seniors ran towards her with a rose in hand, in typical Hindi film style. I think it was the Miss Rose event for that fest. Just as he neared her, he tripped over one of the tent ropes, and fell right at her feet! He got up, brushed his knees, and gave the rose to her. She smiled at him, then looked at me, and smiled again.

He must have hurt his knees badly, cause, the next day I saw him limping in his room. I could hear the song he was singing.

Oh, by the way, I now know why she said 5 years. She failed the first year in college.

Staying Alone..and alive!


Living on your own could not be as tough as people make it out to be. Or so I thought.

When I left college, I was bubbling with enthusiasm at the prospect of living away from home, and looking forward to the “freedom” it had to offer. 2 years and 2 cities hence, I probably would want to tone it down. Not that it has been bad. In fact, these have been one of the most wonderful years, and am still looking forward to more. I see myself as single and gay ( as in Happy, in case you thought otherwise!!) for a few more years to come.

But to put things in perspective, I suppose, the lack of anticipation of issues, one faces living alone, is what makes your stay a trifle more “on the edge”!

Of course, one could argue, what can possibly go wrong if you’ve been through 2 well-paying jobs, and stayed in good metros.

Well, all that aside, I can now vouch for the fact that living alone is not all that easy. A few reasons:

# Support System : If you do not have a good support structure around you, even the most unemotional of persons would find it hard to stay alone. Those are the times when you actually realise the importance of family, friends and the like.

# Health : Taking care of yourself, going to the doctor even when you are sick, and getting your medicines, can be quite an experience. Taking precautions with food – being a food junkie, thats the part I have found most difficult. I for one, have vowed, never to have Domino’s ever again! Of course, the flip side – I could have an entire pizza for myself without having to share with anybody!

# Finances : Being able to stay afloat for the entire month (what with the bills, house rents, loans, etc), and yet save for a rainy day, can give you good lessons in Financial management. I for one, am always getting drenched!

# Daily chores : Dealing with the maid (that too in her language, if its an alien place), bargaining on the money, matching your schedule to hers, etc. can make you a master in Human Resources. Of course, add a few courses on negotiating tactics, learning a foreign language, and a little bit of operations too –
– Getting vegetables has been the most difficult task. Still find it baffling when moms filter through vegetables to select them – never got down to understanding the science behind it, but i do it nevertheless, putting on a “been-there-bought-that” kind of an expression – defence tactics to avoid getting conned by the vendor.
– Cooking has been the next biggest task I have learnt – never again will I tell my mother that salt was less in sambhar! I now know what it feels like to listen to that, and worse, taste your own salt-less food!!

# Making friends : In big cities such as Noida and Mumbai, making friends can be quite a challenge, and especially for guys who are not much of extroverts. Time, work pressure, distance, all tend to act against you. Well, after having spent years in college with wonderful people, making new ones can become quite an onerous task.

There could be lots more, but having said all this, I feel that living alone has made me a better human being – slightly better!! In the midst of a discussion, a friend had told me that marooned in an island alone is the worst thing to happen to anybody. And I had said that marooned in a city with unknown people is even worse. Lack of known faces, lack of a room other than yours’ where you can just go and hang your boots, can give you some tough lessons in life.

You may not be completely confident of yourself. But you certainly realise, that it is the person who hangs in there, with all the rantings of the landlord, the unwashed clothes, the rotten tomatoes, the lonely nights with only the rotating fan to give you company, who actually finds answers to many questions life has to offer.

The essence of living alone is not freedom, but the responsibilites it gives you – to one’s own self.

Happy living!

When Death Spoke…

It was draped in a white cloth – the last piece of cloth, the frail, skinny body would ever wear. Eyes half-closed, a slight smile, as if he were telling the boy standing by his side that you have a long way to go before you reach here. Was it really a smile or was it the boy’s illusion?

He kept looking at him, looking at his chest which had been consistently doing it’s job – it was like an ocean wave, everytime, you felt this was the last, it would come back again. Adding precious moments to the boy’s life. They had pronounced, it was just a matter of time. Little did they know, that it was time that mattered for the young boy. He had never seen death before. He was prepared for the fact, that the body lying on the bed, was in it’s last few moments. He knew it was just a body. The spirit had already left.

It was a machine, which was running the last mile – cranking every ounce of energy it could muster to pull through, using every bit of oil, every part to keep running. He was amazed by how resilient the body was. The painful stubbornness to exist was nothing short of heroic. It was a humbling experience. A feeling of helplessness. A feeling of being a mute spectator, while death walked the last few miles.

But the machine kept running. Every time he would see the chest heave up, he thought “that’s it”, but then it would come back again. Moments of joy, moments of agony. It was bitter,cause he was leaving – never to come back. Only memories, pictures and images would remain – which would eventually get buried in the sands of time. He had never told him, how much he loved him. Cause, he had never known that death would speak to him so soon.

The boy kept his hands on the body’s chest – felt the heart. It was just a machine. But the boy was happy he was leaving – cause, he could not see the suffering and pain the body had been put through for so long. He did not know what to say, and,even if he did, would the body listen to him? He did not know. So,he kept silent.

The only sound that came in the room was from the fan that kept rotating – a monotonous drone.

Images from the bygone days flashed by – the innumerable arguments, the chatter they used to have,the scoldings he would get, the movies they watched together, the debates they would have,the games of cricket they played,the tears they shed together,the laughs they had…he felt a tinge of pain…all’s gone….

Suddenly, he realized what he would not give to have all that back..atleast for sometime.What he would not give to open those eyes, and look at him, give him a smile and tell him, as the old man had told him innumerable times “I am there, dont worry”.What he would not give to walk out of that room with the old man and play a game of cricket, or have a cup of tea…..what he would not give…

And then, he saw. The chest slowed down. The boy came back to reality.For a moment he thought the machine would shudder to a stop. But he was wrong. It was a lovely harmonic. He started to count the seconds between every heave of the chest. It had increased, and was regularly doing so.

He saw the face. Serene.The smile was still there, eyes half-closed.

The machine was slowing down. It did not shudder. It was like the ocean had lost energy in sending out waves anymore, and was slowly retreating.

The last few. The boy kept his hand on the chest again. Saw the face. His tears had dried up. He just wanted the body to stop. To stop trying. To stop putting any more effort. He just wanted it to leave slowly,silently – in the dead of night.

And then, he felt it. Rather, he did not. The chest had stopped. The waves had stopped. The machine had run the last mile.

The boy looked at the old man’s face. The smile was still there. Thought he would say something. Waited. One last wave, one last twitch of the eye, one last goodbye.

But death had spoken.

Existentialism and life

Anybody who’s read Ayan Rand would instantly relate to the concept of “Existentialism” – A Philosophy that speaks of a person’s “objective” outlook towards life and living – A life, devoid of any pre-concieved notions of what’s “right” and “wrong”.

Most of us have a certain way of viewing the world which directly relates to our beliefs, to a dogma which forms the basis for the way we live. It could be either “Subjective” – which relates to our emotions at any given point of time, or could be “Intrinsic’ – which leads us to believe that “good” or “bad” is an inherent property of whatever we see or feel.

Objectivism talks about a philosophy of life which is grounded in reality. Values and ethics which we form are said to be “Objective” if they meet the cognitive needs of the human brain – evaluating something, based on a standard rationale of thought.

Rand, while explaining “Existentialism”, had coined the phrase that “existence exists” – Meaning, objective reality exists irrespective of a person’s emotions, feelings,fears, etc. It holds that reason is man’s only tool to percieve reality, and all actions should be guided by the same.

A major theme of Objectivist philosophy talks about “selfishness” as the highest form of virtue any human being can have.

Rand wrote:
My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

Thats Objectivism.

Well, on a lighter note,I do not know why I am putting this up at 8:00 am in the morning!!…”existence” issues on a Wednesday morning doesn’t augur too well for the week eh?!!…..

Anyways, happy living!!
Cheers!