Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Unjust actions, the world in ferguson

Let us all stand tall and walk with silence,honor all who are silent,forced by the times, by moments that arrest voice--  stand up against injustices, be it in Ferguson, Missouri, Florida, Palastine, pakistan, Borno or anywhere else in the world... The world is ferguson, it is every place ...  Let us stand up against injustice, united; to be louder in our moments of silence, in solidarity with all who are silenced-to protest , with honor , with dignity and valor ... Let us  with quiet  dignity , stand together, come together across all divisions, and fracture the unjust institutions, shake them to their core..Never by chaos,not by destruction, but by a strength that pulse from our depth, from our integrity, for cowards with their unjust modes, can all but crumble, thus...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Stolen childhoods

I turned on BBC news, and arrived at switzerland's stolen child hoods. My eyes avert itself from the screen, as I try to  focus on my cup of tea. I stir the cup of tea and it spills onto the table. Even as I push the swiss childrens' plight to my minds back screen, I tear up ... from the dredges of a past that I cannot out run or throw out, comes a name- 'selvam'... I cannot recall any image, just his distress..
I am at a place and time ,a child...yes I was just a child , walking ,  the coordination required for maneuvering doors  still alien.Today I am crying silently as I sip the tasteless tea, for 'selvam'. I cannot remove the innate empathy of those days, nor the reality that because of that compassion I caused suffering....
Selvam was also a child, sent by his poor and hungry parents to this big house, all to labour away his right to a childhood...on hopes he will be fed, and some cash would flow into their burdened lives for his labours..
There are child labourers all over this world even as I write this.Nothing has changed much for the children, just new facades and new names for the exploitations of children. Some think it is justified to cheat another of their time, their rights trod over,-  willfully negated in front of their own children..but to what end....
I still remember that day when the sun's slanting  rays cast its orange glow , stretched lines on the wooden floor . In an upstairs room slanted shadow of a window grew long on the floor. I slid a peice of bread through the space at the bottom of the uneven door to Selvam's room.I cried with selvam, who was beaten that day. I could  not think of my parents as bad or especially cruel then, yet I stuggle to forgive them of what cannot be forgotten, cannot be undone.... I can understand that  they too were the products of their time.
Now even as their memories fade, at times I feel the urge to force them to remember, but they will not remember anything anymore, only  the memory of that day breaks in me in sadness and shame, a sadness that envelops me in thick oppressive guilt...Yet, I cannot be held guilty, instead it should be my parents , and the society at large... they should embrace the weight of the shame, they should  wear this cloak of guilt suffused sadness.
I wonder about Selvam....what became of him? Did he make it in the world okay.....Did his burdened days rob him of all that we call 'life value" for ever? I know that I will never have answers
Every child soldier, every child who labour, be it in the tobacco farms in the vastness of american south, be it in the brick kilns in India, or cocoa farms of Africa... every child is another Selvam... 
There is also your child who  lives with the  heaviness of guilt... carrying the burden of stained lives. stained by the suffering of the selvams all over the world.
Changing shapes, or the color or the label  will not remove the disparities , the injustices that divide us,...all of us those with or without  will continue to struggle  for the tainted  childhoods... washing away the stains  unto the end....in-escapably  unto the end....

Friday, October 17, 2014

More thoughts on Ebola

Watching the snippets of news brings to mind the confusion in various settings. The one ceratinity I have come to is simple- The healthcare needs maintenance work, in some areas more than others. It is broken because it is an industry/corporation preted-playing being a person. There are no collaboration between systems, and protocols can only do so much. So where to now?...
I do not have  any statistical models. so just following an old unscientific model called intutive model , how is it all going to progress- we may be in for   20 to 22 cases in a months' time, then it expands by multiples, mainly because the health systems implode ,as it tries too hard to practice defensive medicine, entertaining the clients, the consumers , etc, but not 'treating  the patients'. The anxious patients are going to run in, in the coming flu season and demand their rights as a consumer be aquiesced to(with imagined potential contact with someone who may have had contact with , who in turn had.....you get the picture) and the sytem is bound to buckle under that burden. The other scenario is the trumped up drive for consumerism, in the coming months that is going to make way for  possible increased contact exposure and hence have more infections showing up all over the country...when  we can say ...it explodes .
What can be done?
In the ideal world, all will try and get flu shots, reduce unnecessary exposure and if become a contact get the necessary isolation and care model. But we do not have any care model for the public to follow- it is either panic and fear train or ignorant , 'not here' wagons.
There is need for a comprehensive plan that is followed all throughout the country ( and hopefully the wold, but that is too much hope even with my intutive naive idaelistic bend), Not , just each state doing their variable management outlines.
Those who need to be quarantined will have to have less burden placed to break that quarantine- eg. the top one percent may need to break their usual entitlements and the rest will have to break their survival struggle-all for the common good. The average worker bee, that is most of us will have isolate, despite threats to many losses , if we have come into contact and need to be quarantined.The resources for a seamless information, without a coating of jargon  for the public to understand and act appropriately is essential, so is the need for clear guidelines for the care giver, be that a hospital, or a clinic or law enforcement. But can we do that, I doubt it ....Afterall we a so called better place, just stood around dismissively looking at the struggles of MSF and the UN, because it was far away some where else, some low place,but not on our land( here the similarities of a caste system creeps in) . Hence we are in for more chaos and confusions and defenitely a volatile situation of Ebola.-

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Through a distorted lens,viewing ebola

As the Ebola  outbreak continues unabated, the sad plight of nations bearing the burden is mostly pushed aside in our scramble in the west, to contain it from touching us, consuming us. ..
I for a moment wonder if this is how in some unforgotten past an ancient culture brought about cremation , in its effort to curb some catastrophic disease. Did the nidus for caste evolve thus, as a communal effort at isolation, but  like all efforts that grow rigid and at times deadly with time, they did too, just  to become a vehicle for suffering, sans any reasoning...
Are all the screening and possible isolation measures going the same way, with time we will know ,-how much divisive attitudes it will drum up, how the suffering of  communities will be increased by rigid distancing and over-played biases , the cause for more suffering overall.
An offshoot thought, wouldn't it reduce the risk for all the people involved in the burial of  those who died with the disease, if they could be cremated in a safe space.If  faced with new challenges we can, all of us, can change our rigid beliefs and practices. As it was possible to move away from ritual bathing of the dead ,I am certain other practices can be changed in time, especially in dire circumstances.
   
     Some other old beliefs come to mind,eg. 'when did turmeric become an all protective  object in various parts of India'. Did it come out of some viral-bactireal killing property and such use ...reasons that  got lost in time, just to remain as a cast off shell of an original active use, post catastrophy through generations, losing all the original rationale....
Looking through distortions ,some of past practices now take on a different hue.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Ebola on our shores

One of the books I read as a child had a title akin to" myths and legends of the land". There is a story in the book about small pox- about goddess small pox; an angry narcisstic demanding goddess,(almost like the NRA) especially wrath-ful if she is not venerated enough... So she throws her deadly garland from the sky to fall on the rational nonbeliever who repents in his delirium , is how I think the story went, or could be  how I read it...
When I first saw the picture of the Ebola virus, I thought of the garland, the deadly garland., I guess the difference being wether a DNA virus or an RNA virus.
Now that the garland has fallen to us, I wonder how it is going to evolve.
There are a few scenarios that play in my mind. In the ideal world scenario, every person has a concience and is compassionate to others. So each contact self isolates , informs their doctor( who is competant and dedicated) , who then gets the systems(also well thought out and competant) and protocols moving, and all get treated well and equally, with dignity and care  despite their color , creed , gender or financial status. But this is America, not Utopia, so.... may be that explains gun toting guards  and not appropriat containment measures at the origination site.......
In our multi-layered communities and in the face of the stratified health care system , there is the need for a re-adjustment of concience and care to contain this Ebola garland. In our health care system , a wonderfully nuanced  and mostly invisibly stratified one,  there are various ways this will all play out, even as the media ladles out its share of fear or misplaced seccurity , with a dash of venom here and dash of disdain there...
The invisible and at times visible stratification of care is so great that, the ' who, where and what' matters the most- who is the patient,where are you at, what  is the extent of your knowledge in health matters, who decides for your care, who sitting at a phone or computer screen decides to approve or deny your care, who stands to gain(not health wise but  finacially -of course) etc.
I have to say one is lucky if one has a competent team caring for you and the insurance god has mercy- that is where it all depends...
So when all is divyied up and the mistakes covered up, those that is not covered up exposed and executed in public by the media, the Ebola garland would have already gifted itself to many, some through sheer incompetance, but most through lack of compassionate care in this healthcare market, where the patient is always the forgotten one (or in this case the targeted one)... May be , just may be, this will make the health system to correct itself, may be this will awken the compasion, 'the do no harm' tenet - oh just a 'may be' that I dream for ,watching waste of resources poured into the wrong end of things every day in the  health care land...ah  the 'may be's....

Friday, August 29, 2014

anxiety

Anxiety is fears without any clear  resolution,
fears that leave a  trail of  shadows in its wake

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SPRKS IN CSF: Unjust actions

SPRKS IN CSF: Unjust actions: Let us stand in silence  for a minute  @ at Noon on this day and every day  to stand against injustice, be it in Missouri, Florida, Palasti...

Monday, June 2, 2014

gender voilence- an old but new epidemic


Gender violence is one of the world’s most common human rights abuses. Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined. The World Health Organization has found that domestic and sexual violence affects 30 to 60 percent of women in most countries.

In a column in The Hindustan Times, Sagarika Ghose, an author and commentator, wrote, “A profound fear and a deep, almost pathological, hatred of the woman who aspires to be anything more than mother and wife is justified on the grounds of tradition.”
The official explanation for many of the deaths of “missing women” is that they died from accidents or injuries, but there is little reason to believe that Indians are especially clumsy or accident-prone, the researchers said.
Rape and domestic violence are words that once removed from the immediacy of the event , wether by time or  a mind set in emotional distance, just becomes just too clinical, almost devoid of all that went with it , attached to it. Hence it becomes mere words at some point and yet  at other times unreal. The Indian student's death sparked an outcry, and it quieted down.Now something is again awakened ever so breifly in the rape and death of someone else. All those who are harrassed, go through the spacing , almost ritualistically, pushing it out  with time. You are lucky if you have done something in a retaliatory fashion , however small, because that alone gives you a certain sense of wholeness.
How-ever, when it is repeated violence , at home,or what surround you,nay follow you in society,  then  the fabric of self gets worn...gradually shredding your identity. Thus you are no more a whole,but only peices, as if they are all different in someways, and  the person that is you become some flyaway bits you are always gathering up.
Sometimes pushing back can be more damaging, so you wait for a chance and selectively defend parts of your integral self. Some just push it all into a sac that grows wearisome with time, then gets scarred over and your soul gets a little bit darker, as you go through life, never again conciously touching that scarred over foreignness...just barely knowing it , just barely being.
Then, some thing stirs and you remember, your wholeness, almost with the uncertainity of a dream... The memory of a whole follow you , a shadow that evolve, as the scars scale up and fall in bits...you trail through like with the shadow a constant companion, even as you seek that elusive wholeness...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

FOG

FOG

Wispy tendrils of yesterdays
Rise from the snow,
leaning, lifting up,
To hug the air, yet again.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dementia -some thoughts of a GPS trying to reset

I took the picture that fell out of the book and turned it over. Out side the wind blew in cold air from the north. I had been quietly  remenescing as I sorted through the childrens books, some to give away and yet others to keep.Some faint memories without a time stamp hung in the air , 'of reading to my children at bed time' and then the picture fell out.
It must have sat there for over a decade.There sat my parents, in their active life , involved, energised by life, smiling back at me...I do not recall taking that photo, but the energy that was them still enliven the picture.
The years in between has aged them,-- cells that broke down,  acting out , coursing through time as their improper repairs gatherd into clumps of waywardness, all slowly, quietly as all cells age.The biggest change had been that they lost  themselves too- slowly , quietly. I want to forget the present but keep the memories of the past alive , but how can I when the present is the reality.
Hence, despite the present reality I delve into the past and wonder what had been different, what changes over the years got us to  here.There are many  questions in my mind,but  most though evade any  answers.
        Why my grandparents and great grandparents seemed to have an easier course in their old age? Are my memories fixed in some skewed perception of the past that is causing the recall of the past to be faulty?Why do my parents' generation seem to have more debility? Answers to these questions are all too elusive.
Yet as I delve into  my memories, what do I have the easiest recall for, ...not my high school or middle school years, but they are of  my childhood, my early years, then some for my pre-adult and early adult years. The rest all stay mixed in with a lot of fluff..There are bits of my own children's early years that stand clear as well. I am glad that most of the fluff stay as fluff....
As I ponder over this, it does make sense-- these are survival sensitive periods and carry emotion charged memories, hence are  easily laid down.  There are also  hormonal shifts that ease the storage and retrival of these memories, probably triggered by emotion driven cues, that set the whole recall process in motion.(this then  may also  explain how some PTSD circuits are set to a constant cycling set of cues and can't re-set itself )
      In a far away past during my grand parents' time and generations prior to that , families grouped together into small communities.... small villages, stayed small, with a static rythmicity to life.Children grew up , settled near-by , change being almost imperceptable... when you look further back in time the community was further condensed, with groups of extended families under one roof, additions added to the family home . Lives stayed almost set in one place, with its set pace. Changes were only those of time marked by seasons . An assigned child , usually a son and his family cared for their parents in the same home that many generations had passed through.
The way to the church/temple/mosque remained the same, the foot-paths long worn too remained unchanged,except may be, widening with time, as generations  trekked through...all neighbors were known--so and so's child or someone related , hence almost unchanged. Thus communities thrived on the known.
Unknowns by  itself  produce stress, and stress is not conducive to well being.Where change becomes  synonimous with progress, one forgets what this causes to an aging brain and body. The youth progresses into that  range of aging/ages and in that span they forget the cost.They see possibilities in change and charges ahead until they too progress into time...
The memories that settles into time stay and these may be what were stored. I picture them being sorted tagged and settled  into boxes , scattered there with  emotions, mostly pleasent ones that come along as one grows.May be that is why I can recall to the smallest detail where I have wandered at ages three and four; may be these memories, they store well .
What the past generations embellished through-out their lives , being in the same community, interacting with the same group of people, their three and four year old memories maintained with additions(almost as add ons to the same strand)may have helped them.No new damaging  stresses, no severe changes requiring  shut down of the systems all the way  from brain to the periphery.
I realized how disorganising change can be for one, as I drove up the path to my grand parent's home, on my last visit to India.I searched for landmarks... the giant jack-fruit tree,the sound of the brook, the big boulder by the side of the road, the glint of the evening light through the trees. At some point I too realized the simple fact- I was lost. The script that my brain had safely stored away was not compatable with what was there in front of me. Yet it was just only minor changes to my known path, just a new  path few hundred feet away from what I had known and saved into memory.
Even though at five or six yearsof age  I could trace my paths , eg to the mainroad, to aunts house, to church and back , from my grandparent's home( about 5 miles) I felt utterly lost this last time right in front of the house.The changes that came with time confused me and distressed me. Like all stressed plants and animals,  that may fail to thrive, or even fail to survive in a new locale I see how distressing and disorienting  the repeated stress tend to be.
          Imagine how shocking it would be for an older person, to be re-planted thus and expected to adapt ...
Let's take my father for example, who preferred to walk when-ever he could, yes with his charecterestic long stride..he-a social being , now living in a newer house, where everything is suddenly different. To him all that surrounds him is changed,and his internal construct now just causes dismay in the face of these  acute changes . The stress of change causes distress and furthers his confusion.. These stresses further compounds his memory impairments ,all stress being neuro-toxic. The lacunae in his memory in turn furthers his stress, and he enters a vicious cycle of loosing memory and function
In the progress modelled after presumed  modern societies, there is a dismay at aging, a lessened regard for aging as an asset.In a past where age was venerated for wisdom and the care of the aged was a required social norm,it may not have been a burden as it is today just because the societal construct of that period was more forgiving to the process of aging itself. It was probably more supportive just by reducing the destructive stress of change..

At times I wonder how if we projected the progress of changing societies, eg in India  into the future, what will be the result. I have no answers, just more questions.In India we have a population that is migrating even when it is static, migrating because of changes that occur all around.One cannot ascribe an economic cost to it, because stress cannot be measured in straight forward economic cost.The cost is going to be multiplied and multi-layered.-regrets for some, the disregard that results to mitigate those regrets, the growing  frustration for children, neglect for some, all in all a vicious cycle that ends with suffering all around, especially as the Indian society moves forward with lesser self reflection or any tangible long term planning for the care of its aging population.It can only further lead to fractures to the society at many levels.
Hence the question is what can we do to this growing  tide of distress?

The distress for the child in me is two fold,one I can not ease my parent's distress and then, - how will I manage when my memory starts fading.
          Yet I try to remenesce with them, hoping that a spark will catch sometime to spark a little bit of memory and hence some comfort. Mostly for my dad his memory is set at his childhood now as he has progressed further into his dementia.It helps me to use my imagination to describe his own home and its surroundings,because I too remember it as it used to be, before those distressing changes all around. I try to ask some questions, and sometimes a spark catches and I see him smile and engage.I am so glad for skype and he seems to wait for my calls. Some times it is only dis-interest that I face on these calls. If only I could set time back to a place before everything started shorting-out at the neural-circuits and spinning out error messages in the memory codes in his brain, if only....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A tribute to Ruth Patrick

Ruth Patrick, 105, a Pioneer in Science And Pollution Control Efforts, Is Dead

By WILLIAM DICKE

Dr. Patrick, one of the country's leading experts in the study of freshwater ecosystems, or limnology, was an innovator of a number of environmental practices and principles

Even as the drips of rain splatter,
Taking me yet again to a land,lost and gone,
Alive in my mind, ever so briefly,
Drops splatter there on fallen leaves,
   Coconut trees sway, shower the ground,
   As the wind spy on another humid morning,
   Drops fall and clink on a stained jack-fruit leaf,
   I lie there,watch the jack fruits, marvel and dream...
   Open doors, open air and quiet days,
   A childhood stored in memories...
Yet it comes un-announced,
Sweetness of  water on a hot , dusty day,
Mangoes falling with the rain storm,
Dropped in their juicy ripeness,
Sweetness on my tongue, the pureness of joy,
Un-hurried life, now gone.
   Thus I pray, nature take over please...
   Even at the morning walk, scrape the rubber soles,
   Forgotten , the milky sap and all before,
   All felled trees , dead to grow soured sap
Missed  giants, some forgotten in moments
Be it an enampechi,or leech, 
Be that the Panal bush or the mud-swinmmer fish
Long gone before the scientific giants, 
Some  who braved before the masses
Liberals,Like grand mother, 
Like science  freind to child through news snippets...
Enough to inspire, no-less..

PS... the river flows now barely, fully blocked up by debris . The water , nor the ground can reclaim its purer state again, in the new rubber  growing era. I had been read to about some enviormentalist lady who worked with river water, which added to my fantasy of my friend the river.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Memories - fading shades of time

On a recent phone call to my father , I had skimmed through some days of the past, what once had been bright now sitting dappled in shadows of fuzzy memories.I tried to re-ignite some sparks, pushing on recall- on events, sounds ,  then on to scents,and then finally giving up. It left me with just a sense of all permeating sadness, glancing at life, how it is , how it had been...
As a child I had dismissed and mostly disliked my great grandmother, for her need to repeat the selfsame stories, her critical and restrictive nature not sitting well with the little child that was me. Now I see the same nature shifts in my father, a shift I see each time I visit,as time stretch long  in between.Yet depending on his shifts, I too reach back and recall , understanding anew  the aging mind , the aging brain.
I compare notes in my mind and see that after all, none of it is all that different, be that my great grandmother or my father. the similarities stand out dwarfing the differences...
I see again the stooping stature of my great grand mother, her critical rants, soon forgotten giving way to the  need to  consume my attention with her stories from the past while all my tiny legs waited was to follow my mind to a run in the sand.
I see my father doing identical things, slight stoop indicating his bone loosing itself as gravity works on his body.  I picture tendrils of plaques clouding  over, probably firing away on his neurons sending off error signals that come streaming as annoyance at my four year old nephew for rushing off before his repeated stories are done...Through the years the changes are there, pendulous arcing moments that track some of the past.
Irritability laced stories giving  way to rage...at some slight , real and imagined, which then had given way to an exacting mode with a need to control every one whom he perceived to be a child at some point in time,telling us all how to do day to day activities the right way. This then was replaced with a certain pleasantness phase , when all the stories became humorous and goodnatured. Yet with each of these phases part of his memory had slipped away,dissolving quietly.
Of course there are moments of clarity, brief and momentary, may be as another neuron sparks, bringing into sharp focus another stored away memory, another sliver of protein , and then it goes pulling of all connections.Now memories are mostly defined by their absence, everything has become vague and undefined and hence lost....I imagine the plaques hiding in the shadowy deeps of the brain like an octopus, spewing ink over memories and grasping the neurons one by one in its tentacles. I picture the neurons sparking at  their dendrites,lost in a  confounding ocean of memories of a lifetime , igniting one faint event with that  misplaced spark, as it is disabled and then the memory can not be retrieved for it is lost, not to just one neuron, but to all association areas and hence is gone...all gone to rest in that amorphous amalgam as the ink spewing octopus swim along....we all , the children watch, some cry, some get annoyed, some ignore it all, some times we do all these together, yet none of us can bring back the associations, because we do not hold anything to trigger these memories.No key words, no RNA, nothing , nothing
There are no shared memories now, they have become just ours for now, and we have waited too long to share them and now they have become for us a burden, by not sharing them earlier...we have let the plaques win, we did not even notice them, we tarried and now we hold regrets, not knowing where to put them down, for now its ours to hold forever....

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thoughts on mothers day

Some times the celebrated  mothers day bring distress into sharp focus. I know aging happens, yet the hardest part of aging is that , even when it is inevitable , there is nothing you can do about it...not for the one whose life is shearing off in small threads, nor for the one left watching it helplessly...
you remember your aging parents, quiet moments of regret trailing you , for their infirm state, welling up in your eyes at times, yet you cannot do anything about it.
Even when you phone them , you realize oceans separate you and options are limited in every way.When you visit, you want to stay, yet each day ,your adult life pull at you a little harder and you know of the limitations that call itself --'responsibilities'.
Moving away from the place of your origin tugs at you the most, and then every progress become a constraint and in the end a useless endeavour, or it feels so.
You wander, lost , bereft of tethers that attach and hence bind, mourning that loss even as you tear at all restrictive weights..you dream , yet searching, in secret yearning for those binding tethers, even as you tear up the tethering forces that are invisible.
Here progress becomes its own failing... you "skype", marvel at the technology that gets you close, yet swirls of a vaccum deep inside robs you and in its wake, leaves shadows of distress..
You wish time had stood still, in one sense it may have quashed progress, but in yet another sense, inevitable losses would have been easier, may be...there you could visit your parents , frequently, comfort and ease their aging selves, taking leave as the day wears on and they wear on you.
Maybe they would feel the stability of living in the community they  identified and became part of, from birth, delaying their whole aging process...they would have been happier, with less(owned tangibles), but active still with random routines, that in itself would have delayed illnesses and limitations ...
They sacrificed much for their children, mis-percieved as progress, so today you too continue in  that same line of honorable mis-perceptions...
So while the communities have marched onto its current global form, at one corner  of that information superhighway, you are caught between two worlds...oceans apart, with an ache that persist just like the waves, marking time, making it relevant..Yet you try to hold on to remembered bits, hold on to fraying connections , with the fraility of your mother on one end, with her memory that lurches between static and random recalls , and on the other end impatience in your daughter scraping at time for clear still moments of thought....

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bangalore,Once garden city...water free gardens ?

Recently I  visited India, and for the first time in a long while, I felt cheated...yes ,by  the garden city - Bangalore. I searched in vain for landmarks in a place that once held many fond memories. As the travel to the airport stalled to a crawl, as the dusk smelled of exhaust fumes and future smogs, I think I saw a piece of history...may be of significance only for me.There was the piece of wall/fence that still look like it was a forgotten piece from  the edge of MG road once... I had earlier seen  the identifiable signs of schools on residency road , and had thought my lack of cognition was due to pure fatigue, but it was not so. I searched in vain for the rain collectors,ponds and lakes that years ago had dotted  the state ,those large aquifiers, a hall mark of a state that knew water scarcity. That land where once  we walked swatting at mosquitoes by the lake, now stand apartment buildings and the insanity of traffic .Ironically, here  I come across tankers-the new water carriers..My friends described the water scarcity in the city as  we pass yet another tanker ...may be here they can try some thing akin to UTEC of Peru, but how to fix a man made calamity, that is being fed to grow further....
     The boulder that had few wilting flowers at its base ...a hope  to assuage the daily struggles of an occasional  villager from some  past, not too far ... has grown into a full fledged  temple with much religious fanfare now. The boulder still stayed weathered and hence identifiable. Few trees peeking from the walls of another compound and the wall of the Dairy had aged but remained sentinels to a graceful past. It could be just my sentiment that calls it graceful, when every one who considers construction as progress will disagree.
As the dust hung low in the garden city, and the traffic crawled to a stop, I sadly recognized the death of a city that grew beyond itself... growth defined by poor planning , almost like the bacterial colony-lysis inside a petri-dish...when progress out paces resources and decline sets in sliding to death. May  be the planners could take their cue from nature...possibly the lowly plated agar plates, or an ant hill, just learn  of resource management, planned layouts,community  growth , development of satelite colonies etc...well one can wish and  just sigh, at this  slow slide to death....

Saturday, January 26, 2013

scarlet letter on Manti teo

The news and the off-shoots reverberates round and round, and I had to write. Once long ago I had learned that the pen can wield some might, may be... The last straw came with some fool again pontificating about how another angle had to be had on the Manti Teo 's actions or inactions, and this person  could have been old enough to be Manti T's grandfather. ....
Bullying in the media cannot be equated to news worthy-ness. I imagine the sun stretching dawn over the golden dome as the morning news again has quips with another angle. Where guns are for protection, especially when important issues as gun control are to be drowned out, it seem righteous for some to pick on a young adult probably about the age of their own children. As if one at that age  is not burdened enough  with their own regrets and shame, it seems culturally necessary to assign the scarlet letter, even as the same news segment talks about cyber bulliying through their partially pursed lips . Well if for a brief moment one could give privacy it's due and learn the art of compassion....May be, then we all could rise to be better people, or at least learn to feel  compassion. Then again, that may never be so, because that calls for much more than feeling great just at being bullies. It also calls for tolerance, understanding, and all kinds of value systems that we are yet to learn.
Once bullying has been elevated to the art form it is , I guess there can be only one direction....assign a scarlet letter and never let up, because bullying the art form is superior to all else....especially if it directs attention away -away from other important issues at hand....especially with a large scarlet eye-catching letter,

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gulf war syndrome, a prespective



Reviving a 20-year debate over illnesses of veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, a new scientific paper presents evidence that nerve agents released by the bombing of Iraqi chemical weapons depots just before the ground war began could have carried downwind and fallen on American troops staged in Saudi Arabia.



The paper, published in the journal Neuroepidemiology, tries to rebut the longstanding Pentagon position, supported by many scientists, that neurotoxins, particularly sarin gas, could not have carried far enough to sicken American forces.
The authors are James J. Tuite and Dr. Robert Haley, who has written several papers asserting links between chemical exposures and gulf war illnesses. They assembled data from meteorological and intelligence reports to support their thesis that American bombs were powerful enough to propel sarin from depots in Muthanna and Falluja high into the atmosphere, where winds whisked it hundreds of miles south to the Saudi border. 

As I  read this, I sigh with a sense of relief.. I think "finally".. yes it is past the time  when we who had symptoms were made to feel that we were delusional, somehow... less than , or mentally challenged and physically deficient...yes finally... But still a debate , Really...
A little late for the children who breathed that air on the nearly week long shamalls that followed. Yes they cried,not then, but in the years to come, through the nights with burning feet, who had random tingling all along the periphery,  all these showing up at random points in their childhood .... yes, a bit late  after years of  pain ... indeed... 
 Denial is a great river that perpetually drains insight and hence knowledge. After years of circulatory problems that pop up at random points, skin that is reactive with no reason, joint and musculoskeletal rage by the body, varying degrees and variety in each family member who had the probable exposure ....with no back up of data.Of course there can be no doubt / possibility lest that opens up a Pandora's box...Really....when our bodies broke down, bit by bit, loosing temperature regulatory capacity, hormone balances and burned with sparks of neurologic  fires and circulatory mess ups, it would have eased that pain just to be acknowledged, by saying " it was possible"....why was it scientifically an impossibility to hypothesize that may be some interactions got  going making the body react.That is not how any progress was ever made in the scientific community, and surely not in the healing arts....surely there has to be questions to spark curious minds to debate on possibilities before conclusions are drawn...however with conscious efforts the body regroups, sort of....the aware exercise and nutrition ,along with regular sleep patterns are paramount I guess. The body is always trying to repair within its limitations, I guess.
Yes, now despite rising risks of environmental pollutants, rising risks of illnesses that cause morbidity  and a slow paced march to death , or may be more of a crawl to death  ...with what ends up in our water and food every day.... May be that is delusional thinking too....at least for now surely-- especially when viewed as a convenient position of readying ourselves for complacency.....
Most died at the very start of their young lives, tiny victims taken in a way not fit for anyone . Others found their life's work in sheltering little ones, teaching them, caring for them, treating them as their own. After the gunfire ended Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the trail of loss  ..............................

viparitha kale viparithachittha, aham manye, aham sahake, bodhi chittho bhave

( I hope i have the right expression and hope bodhi chittha stay and grow deep where most needed)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dragon's breath

Dragon's breath

The dragon's breath came in puffs of humid wisps and smoke rings. There it stayed warm, frosted against the cold window ever so briefly and fell in droplets splattering on the old worn deck.
The majestic oak stood, his mane drenched in dragon sweat and condensed breath. The acrid fumes of the battling dragons drenched the earth beneath and soaked into his immobile feet. He stayed up, his gaze grazing the moving scaly tail, avoiding it with a backward arch of his trunk. While lesser oaks swayed with every puff of air from those flaring nostrils, majestic oak stayed guard, stern eyes blazing in the moonlight. It simply was not in his nature to quail or swoon, so instead he shook his head to dry his long mane, to rid it of the dragon's breath and moisture streaking the air. Yet the night crawled by in minutes , or was it centuries...
The majestic oak stood, a lone sentry to mark time as the moon came up behind, her silken veil trailing by her side. She , always a shrouded mystery, not coy, just her gaze averted , to avoid the confrontation... of the titans of the air and water...
Her magic pulled and stirred, her gaze held in their depths the powers unknown.
As the battle raged , the majestic oak stood rooted, shocked , yet stayed silent seeing it all , mute before the dragon's brawl ,their brute force and  the lunar gaze that  fluttered and danced deep inside like singing tides that lapped at his feet.

(legend has it that storms come when dragons fight and wrestle) help those in need now, go to redcross.org

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Nature- lost

This seems  more relevant today than a while back , when it was written, after a walk. The coral reefs are dying at a higher rate, and the death of nature continues. The most destructive species-humans. being the greatest pest of the present, are we gearing for our wipeout as a species. very likely...or is it.. definitely--
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Even as the drips of rain splatter,
Taking me yet again to a land,lost and gone,
Alive in my mind, ever so briefly,
Drops splatter there on fallen leaves,
   Coconut trees sway, shower the ground,
   As the wind spy on another humid morning,
   Drops fall and clink on a stained jack-fruit leaf,
   I lie there,watch the jack fruits, marvel and dream...
   Open doors, open air and quiet days,
   A childhood stored in memories...
Yet it comes un-announced,
Sweetness of  water on a hot , dusty day,
Mangoes falling with the rain storm,
Dropped in their juicy ripeness,
Sweetness on my tongue, the pureness of joy,
Un-hurried life, now gone.
   Thus I pray, nature take over please...
   Even at the morning walk, scrape the rubber soles,
   Forgotten , the milky sap and all before,
   All felled trees , dead to grow soured sap
Even as I sip my share of BPA,  exhale on exhaust,
Harried run to a volume practice, hurried minds forget,
Of all unhurried days stored away,
Vareity of nature lost , forgotten long
All to endangered lists,dismissed
Yet I still pray, nature , take over please...
(looks like nature is trying a little)
-----------------

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Japan-images, fuzzy yet may be clear

As the dawn creeps along on the tail of fading darkness, as I lay somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, some images come floating by again...vivid, more bright, full of life than life itself.
I connect these and recognise the dots, the dots of fire that dance all around me, flickering,little tongues and comma-shaped worms ...all curling up along the wall. That was the repeated theme of my nightmares before I was even four, a time when I had to call out  for some-one  get me down from my  bed, before when I had to stretch  and crawl up the steps at my grandmothers house.
They stayed even on the day I heaved myself grasping at the hard cement step, holding to the edge of the stone that jutted out a little, enough for my tiny fingers as I hauled up scraping part of that four year old abdomen. Then, I had scampered after my grandmother as she went along to feed the goat somewhere under a  low tree.I followed her foot steps that stayed as fleeting depressions on the wet grass. Jewels of the first dew drops smiled at me and at the morning sun that peeked through the leaves. Fear had stopped me briefly as I neared the top of the stairs...the vast expanse of the universe in front  looked scary and different from my current vantage point.  As I climbed that last step  the yard seemed smaller  and soon seemed  an attainable expanse. I had brought along my friends, invisible to all others, talking to them,their encouraging words and looks keeping me busy and with their courage I had made that epic climb.Of course they would become very quiet if any body came by, but would look at the adults and blink their eyes totell me to be quiet. the only exception was my gandma, some-times..
When  finally I caught up with my grand-ma she had that surprised look...for "there i was...indeed"...both of us excited about -growth catching up.
Despite all these landmarks , the nightmares came. They came nearly everyday. My invisible friends could not do anything. They just watched, powerless.
  I never really understood then, nor paid much attention to those dreams  for most of my life, those nightmares stayed in the back up stack of memories...until I visited Japan. As I walked through Hiroshima, there was one picture by someone who had seen it, the horror, the awful depth of the horrors  at some far off time...
He had  seen it and lived it...My nightmares , exactly as I had them, so exact, so clear,yet he drew them, lived that ,with no way to escape ..... The flickering glow of fire worms, against the gray orange of the days, the all enveloping heat and the hazy orange gray of evening.... I used to wake up screaming "puthan, poothan' , then I could hear a jumble of conversations as a faint murmur of sounds , and it just repeated  night after night
  Then as I walked out to the park by the  river it came, as a vision , the recall merged into something I could not express...just profound fears next to past horrors..the fear of water in my little river where the ground shifted, algae that felt to my child hood mind as grasp by hands,all pulling me down.I had tried to tell my mother,she just said" it is just algae, it cannot catch you or pull you", all matter of factly.. My fear of that algae was so extreme, that I could not  step in without checking for the green algae.I understood that feel of silt on the quite side of our small river which I had tried to describe to my cousins as they wanted to play in that part...tried telling them how it felt like people, like a doughy yield of skin,but they just laughed and splashed water at me. I stayed to my safe area where the gravely sand was never soft,but cushioned my feet pressing gently against the tiny arches.
In the park I sat on a bench, thirsty,parched throat that refused to be hydrated despite the water and milk tea...
The stone lanterns in the park, the carved stones- there it was again, what I had obsessively drawn,tracing the outline,despite the annoyance in  every adults glance. Finally my grand-mother bought me a slate and slate pencil,so I could draw with a clean washed surface each time as the pictures filled up that board. Yet it remained the same picture..over and over. It was one of those lamps in silhouette....I had forgotten about my constant drawings until i saw that lamp  , just as I passed by it that evening.. my children stared at my tears and were concerned, rightly so....then it all came to me as a flood of memories, all locks broken...
It had never crossed my awareness that rebirth may be possible, but now I am not so certain. I do not have clarity about my imaginary friends, but the two of them were by me all that time.The nightmares are still vivid in my memory, so is the feel of the algae and the silted riverbed. I can close my eyes and feel those, same feelings. They rushed through my mind again this morning as I moved into wakefulness,thus that uncertainty has taken form and spilled out as words.Now that it has found some clarity,the disquiet has calmed itself again. In one sense I only belonged to my grandmothers house, yet the only other place I felt happy and really that same sense of belonging  was just Japan. How can I explain that sense of "not quiet right" even when I build a home, even through the many countries I have been to and yet never felt I know the place, that I was fully part of it any way.
May be this is where my affinity for Buddhist philosophies came into being-or may be it was there all along waiting to get out into my conscious thoughts,despite another religion that enveloped me always, that I have passed on to my children, along with some life principles that I strive to ...I will never know with certainty,will I? Instead I will continue to course through life trying to cause the least damage all around as those principles advise......

dead fish at lake eirie,Guaymi ,The Riverbones and other things

I wrote this last year, or some where in the beginning , but the relevance is still so much there. The news reports repeat the same themes...dead fish,oil spills, people on two end of a spectrum , human war with nature or progress....The relevance of news item today was-"




Fish Kill Lake Erie
The Niagara River empties Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. This water has just passed over Niagara Falls.
Well, it certainly is eerie.
Tens of thousands of dead fish, along with dead seagulls, washed up on the shores of Lake Erie on Wednesday afternoon in yet another mysterious mass animal death.....
Officials are still awaiting more intensive lab analysis results on the dead fish found at Lake Erie, which included carp, sheepshead, perch, catfish and suckers. "

 Reading the pages of "The Riverbones" had started out as a space filler for times spent waiting ... at places and points when I wished  to feel less of wastage,still  it got me right  back to the topic of wastage. This is what surrounds us--costly ineffective recycling paths in the developed nations, more as an afterthought, or costly preventative measures as a band aid after disruption of entire communities.
The guaymi tribe in panama are protesting...a brief headline flash over the BBC news , meant to be just a barely consequential mention.yet it caught my eye,so there it was-the guaymi angry over copper mining  and protesting.
In reality do we care at all, other than to possibly  have a brief twinge of regret once in  a decade or so ; but then it is easy to forget that discomfort , for who would choose and want to deal with discomfort after all.
My last visit to my child-hood village had caused such a brief twinge, with a tinge of longing for a past, longing for the thick darkness surrounding our house with tall  trees -- all varieties and sizes. The reality of a time as I recalled, where resources had value, not as timber or pest... is long gone from even the subconscious memory of most .Now there are trees with a green canopy but of even height  and of the same genre,all with their milky sap caking the curvy cuts on their bark.
The creek bed is littered with plastic bags and bottles that drag at the oil streaks and muddy bottom. There are no streaming array of fish ready to swim away. In fact it is all dying...the creek, the land ,everything. there are no animals or birds, there are no snakes for me to fear, nor the giant millipedes that disgusted me as a child, which lived on the forest floor,recycling the waste of a tropical forest. Now by the creek bed there is no worry about the suckers of a leech, for there are no leeches. They are all dead..so many things-all gone.Some type of things  have gone completely extinct including my favorite wild fruits.The sparkling creek has lost its sparkle , instead it transports pollutants  in its shallow gunk-the runoff from the rubber estates that surround and shrouds its life.
As disillusioned as I am, I know there is  very little I can do as people will not change without an inherent awareness or being forced to do so ,especially when it comes to putting nature above their  immediate gratification need, be it financial or just comfort.
I hope that we come together to respect and support all who try to prevent the death of beauty and nature,as yet others continue to unabashedly rape the forests all over the world.
My heart aches as there are no identifiable bits left of my friends, be they the trees, a bat winging in the dusk, a kingfisher on a dive ,  turtles peeking from spongy marsh, the old mango tree that leans with  its bounty of tiny mangoes, the jack-fruit tree with basketball fruits....the list just goes on. I will miss them.The people of the village have morphed but I just want to remember them as they were, for now their new form is bound and limiting like the land .

Friday, July 27, 2012

where to- our future



I hear the movements that are quiet and gentle encroach on to my dreams as my child,now brimming with adult actions leaves for her work ,a nearly three hour commute away. The idealism that sparked at the start still glimmer as she put away the things to take in the morning, but there is despair for the youth  bleeding through as it clots into hopelessness. I see the weight of it in those eyes.I hear snippets that spill through the frustrations of teaching  at  hope-lost schools, students that have nothing to spark interest... except their own reflected apathy

  Some days I  too struggle with similar frustrations.What is it that I share with my children; may be it is a disease-a disease of idealism.When  a whole nation propels itself on greed,we stand apart- our idealism at least is never contagious.
I understand , when she says -" what is the point, no one cares-not the students, who at least have a chance if they did,but they do not want to".
I try to imagine our future ., the collective future of our nation, future that  spill out of the present;out of the apathy and greed mix...It is a bleak one, where a social divide just grows, where some fools like us still carrying our idealism gene (or virus) , keep going because we can't help it, despite our mounting disillusions-that all our efforts will hardly  produce  a dent, but we still hope...yes,with  that hope still alive, we keep going. we may stop to buy a healthier sandwich on the run , getting more frustrated that healthier is a relative term and  at the other end of that sandwich tube is 'the gloating greed laughing its way to a fatted bank'. Then we wearily lay  down to a short compressed sleep at the end of the day, to dream of  vegetable patches that grow without effort, and a relaxed time to prepare and enjoy those vegetables. ..
 Even before dawn streaks the horizon, she goes to her school to teach -expand their vocabulary beyond curses, hoping that they will keep the drug haze and gang dance away for a few seconds to spark interest in plants, animals, health ...science may be, may be a slight  spark that can light the fire and stop their dissolving selves,fading into time...
And I too move , to the work mill , hoping when I bring up plant products to an obese one , it is not because I have some vested interest to sell something, but it is because fruit flavored soda does not equate to fruits. Besides that weight is a weighty issue when you are tipping past three hundred pounds ... I feel my right to walk, run, grow my vegetables, eat my food that I cooked, and sleep are put on the back burner, all trampled over as I run in circles around your needs that keep growing and tax me out of my existence. Then there are ones who gets upset that I pointed out some critical issues.... keep gaining in pounds, pressure and sugars too, and some where it has to give...
Where it gives is at the most frayed area of our social fabric, the trampled area in the grey zone caught some where between entitlement , greed and apathy.
There are no systemic solutions...only fix ups that keep mounting, further taxing into my rights of clean air and a time to breathe in. so I rush to my car to get to work, to your lengthening list of fix it nows, resentment briefly rising in me for the time I loose daily- to perchance sleep, read a good book,run, garden a tiny bit...then I gather myself... look forward , to, another walk as the world around me slumber on a clear Saturday morning, to the breeze that rustle the leaves by the boardwalk as the sun shades the far sky pink on a random day of the week which  I try to squeeze in, all so to erase the grip of your lists... Then I hope for those brief moments to brighten my days, with that I hope for you...along with my children's hopes for those of you caught  in ,  frayed spots...

Monday, June 25, 2012

My life .-) by Nalgene Bottle

Racial Profiling Rife at Airport, U.S. Officers Say 367 Co

More than 30 federal officers in an airport program intended to spot telltale mannerisms of potential terrorists say the operation has become a magnet for racial profiling, targeting not only Middle Easterners but also blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.

I had never dreamt that I would write about my life. But today it  came to me , as I lay there on my bed for the day, that I am going to be a writer, especially after I read some bit of news headlines today
"TSA Worker's Metal Detector Causes Evacuations, Delays At JFK Airport ...

I am of course shocked, and then, just like all those who write books on a whim, I decide I shall  be a writer.

   I am Nalgene Bottle,first name Nalgene,last name Bottle. I never questioned why my parents named me Nalgene, because I never knew them. I am adopted. I had spent my early years, at least the part that I remember waiting to be adopted, I would lay in bed watching those who got adopted, watching them , envy brimming inside me. I knew I had to wait my time, so I waited patiently, in my bed, cozy in my blanket, clear and crinkly, watching the world go by . We never had naps , because our land was always so bright.We knew it was night when the people looking to adopt us all left and our town became really quiet, except for the fluorescent sun, still shining strong.  I envied all those clear skinned  babies and the pink faces who got adopted. I have to say I am kind of grey and ruddy, not yet purple but nearly violaceous . Lets say, I am colored and also a little chunky. May be that had somehow delayed my adoption for so long.
Then one day I too was adopted. Ah those kind hands that took me places. I went every where with them.
    As for my religion, I don't follow any religion fervently or clearly. I was born with this inherent knowledge that I have all those good genes from my parents, all their good qualities, God rest their souls...They gave their life for me , and hence I always remember them. I knew I was created,but at the same time knew I must have evolved as well. Well since my adoption I have travelled a lot with my adoptive parent . I don't think much about my beliefs, just knowing I have a higher purpose in life, that always keeps me grounded...  all those interesting places ,people, oh it is so busy, yet so rewarding.
Today I overheard my parent's conversation ...they were talking about how Sally  had named her son "Dollar" and her daughter "Naira". Sally seems to love paper with patterns, and seem just  plain awful.I am just thankful I was named Nalgene and not some stupid name like that.
However, despite all that, some times I feel angry at my parents, and grandparents, for their secretiveness. It is not easy being related to famous people like BPA and Teflon and some others who are too secretive even to be named.
Today I decided I had to write about me , and my life , especially  as I am afraid for my life.
May be I am getting sick, but I feel there are dark forces out there which could shatter me despite my inner strength.
 Just today, in a matter of minutes I was X-rayed probed, poked and X-rayed again three times. After all that they were giving my  adoptive mom , those evil looks, despite it being clear as day that I had nothing to hide.I was drained, empty as can be...just air, I told myself, as I tried to calm myself. They were really harassing her. They swabbed at her hands, not once but twice,  then they pulled out my bedding, spreading pieces of it all over, and poked at me again and again. If they knew I could read their minds , I feel they would have at least tried to keep their dark thoughts more hidden. Oh I shake just remembering their biased evil thoughts...they even called my mother a "Muslim terrorist", and many other choice phrases that I cannot even bring up without breaking down. Did they with their TSA degrees ever go to class,or to any of  those churches with my mother...I did. Of course I always went everywhere with her, even to visit some Cardinal uncle of hers.. How their small minds do think that the word terrorist must always associate with one religion, and not with another...well, I guess the micro-cultures in some regions carry biases that can only be called delusional. Do they think our color predict our minds, of course they do, because I saw their dark thoughts, so I know.With such small minds , how  can they even think, it must rattle their brains every time, to think anything even within the constraints of that poorly connected organ.
May be their degree " TSA"mean "think some away" or "think small always"...some thing.I don't know. Now I am exhausted, I think I will write  again later...after a long nap to clear my mind of all the negative  energies from those dark forces and bully faces. I only hope they are not following me with their dark hearts...I fear for my life, but I will write again, that is a promise.May be some day I too will be writing about the million little peices of my life, detailed descriptions and all...vow, I can become famous, see me on TV, briefly, yet feel elation for my brief greatness and fame.I have to really take a nap now to dream something big, I guess...soooo... to my rest-ful dreams...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Connections

To be connected -mostly it appears to be a failing of sorts, except to the virtual world. So, I strive to become disconnected from others, just to make it easier.Thus there can be no dimension of truly thinking about consequences to where life expand to, in time. It will then be all about self, hence others, all other beings are  then easily discounted.
     This past week it got harder, as my connected nature despite significant training, still pushed through.
               Death and lives had got itself strung out on strands of benzene rings. First, it was news item----

Diesel exhausts do cause cancer, says WHO

The years go by and friends all get  busy, just as you do, then you squeeze in time for lunch, between work, kids, meetings and what not...especially if they are coming from another continent,with decades lost in  between, then you box up the training to disconnect for a few hours...Thus there was another reconnect into the past...Yes, that reconnect brought the benzene ring into sharp focus.
So many had died -the common theme..wisps of benzene and cancer...Diftar,Mrs.Fisher,Goma,Therese, Francis,Ali,Kumar...the list just got longer as the compressed time begged the reminiscing minds to race ahead.
    So, this morning I made the move. I called to make an appointment for the scan. After all, all these people from the past seemed to do one thing, -urgently connect with me and move me to face reality.
Ignorance some times is bliss as the saying goes,still,  awareness though hard to grasp, with its sharp edges, has once again brought that benzene ring to a very sharp focus.
When it stares me down,almost taunting me ,  as I put a slice of mango into my mouth or wash the just picked asparagus from my organic garden, I tried to poke the benzene ring right in its eye...yes, I dialled to make that appointment. Yes , knowledge is going to be my power, indeed my guard-for now.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Anxiety- some thoughts

I have thought awhile about fear and anxiety- more so lately. It seems that anxiety could be like a constant while fear has touches of hopelessness where that constant of anxiety fades, almost like a fall that you cannot break...then you come to know that to be depressed is all that and some more.There is a sad fragility to  living,   is its own loss , a loss of the hope sprung joys  ...then you dip into life -dip in and feel choked full in emotions that are compacted and stuck.
    Fear is probably the the epitome of walking with tightly closed eyes, knowing very well that you are at the precipice, steps away from an abyss, but you prefer to walk forth as you have no choice, no choice at all to turn back.You prefer your eyes closed ,because opening them would only deepen the certainty of that hopeless fall.
In that fall I morph into many parts, and there I loose self--me, you, them , us , all become parts of one ,yet stay whole, disintegrating at times...
   If I say I am not afraid, that would be a lie . What lies in the future is scary, most of all, it is not knowing any of it ...Each check up you hold your breath and then it stays there unable to breathe out, held there stuck...
  You plan again  for tomorrows, you look at the sun come up and then it is night again.You want to pin blame  some where......the air, the food, but you just cannot, among uncertainties...
           Even when the tanks rolled out and the acrid smoke with a hint of benzene in the air coated your sky, even as you stayed in a constant dark , roads that snaked into the desert,stayed quiet and dark , veiled in gloom, you did not panic. There was hope still, and everything could be seen as yet another challenge...
Even in those days when you played hide and seek, when you held your breath to be very quiet, ,to protect your children , you still took it as a challenge.But it all changed when a constancy of battering settled in , took away you, slowly bleeding life form the depths within you.
Even on that day the car caught fire,awakening you  in the back seat on the way back from Khobar, it still amounted to another challenge...despite the awareness that touched on reality at the periphery, of you, a woman with children left there alone by the side of the highway, just sand stretching into the horizon. It still took on a hue of a challenge as you found hints of the desalination plant poking through the far Arabian haze,a point,a beacon to pin some shade of hope to.
Yet when life has thrown too many bouncy balls at  you , the person...and the least expected one stuck, for however brief, that is fear.Then even when it bounces away, as those bounces on the hard floor disintegrates into quiet,you hold onto the feeling of doom, unable to let go...
You are just afraid of what comes bouncing around the next bend, that's all. Then you slowly hug the days,even as you fill it beyond full, for you cannot bear to know the still of quiet...
That disquiet which fills the quiet then evolves into a constant, a constant lax cord of doom that with time curdles and morphs into a choke hold of anxiety.
Like an aged rubber band,it does not give any more, the laxity has settled with time, now you are just wound and taut, a non pliable self, waiting for the pall of doom to break you- just around that next turn of life.
The challenges have given way, and you wait , a stretched wait for the gray of doom, the constant of anxiety by your side.
As I write this, another quicksilver flashes and dart into the life mix, a little far removed and that was enough to move things to challenge level once more.So I have to now go and embrace the new challenge and feel the force of life again, flashing across in challenge forms...more invigorating than the gray of gloomy doom
May be engaging in these little flashes of challenges against the gray of doom, I will evolve, to hear in the stillness, the birth of thoughts, as they once again shift to flexible forms that can stretch...or so I imagine again...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Zero(short story by -pc3)


ZERO
                                                                                                  

“Zero is powerful because it is infinity’s twin. They are equal and opposite, yin and yang”. Charles Seif.

“A penny for your thoughts”. My mind had wandered off, so I slowly closed   the book.
I am Penny, but my friends from long ago used to tease me, for my thin build and quick wit calling me pencil. I looked out at the falling snow, gently coating the roads smothering all sound. It had been twenty two years and then some, if you counted the days. Memory has a way of blowing away fluff leaving moments clear, covering it again, just as in a snow storm.
Those words tinkled with clarity again today, just as it had on that fall morning twenty-two years back. “A penny for your thoughts”, David had said at the bus stop. A few of us were waiting for the bus back to school after our break. David and I became friends during that final semester at college, and rather quickly slid down to marriage.
It was to be today or never, well almost. This snow will delay my meeting with the attorney. Guess a day this way or that doesn’t matter when you are looking at a whole new life ahead. Questions with no clear answers swim around in my head, swirls of cold snow coat my thoughts chilling them to inaction.
It was one year ago in March on a cold day that I had considered distance as an evolutionary blessing. Yes, last March it was cold and grey, an overhang of gloom had settled in to steady the clouds.
There I was, my pillow hugging my head that just would not stop. I had to stop thinking or die. I had tried for a whole year, to stop all thought, but they just were like weeds, coming alive in moments and ever so frequent too. Yet, they had stayed dormant for so long that I had forgotten that thoughts could exist.
“Penny, indeed,--an apt name your parents found. –You worthless bumbling idiot…zero now that fits --just like the ones you produced, all good for nothing…” David my husband muttered his disgust that slid down the banisters as he walked up the stairs to his bedroom.
He would be leaving in the morning on a trip to start his new job in Florida. I tried not to be bothered by his rants. Besides, I had gotten used to it over the past two decades.
We are a family and families come through always. Of course every family has its ups and downs. Being transformed from penny to a blank.—to nothing, to zero. Guess I could perceive myself as nothing but a floating life form in a vacuum, waiting for death, one day to the next. I tried, I truly tried to stop thinking, but I had loved infinity from the first time I wrote it,  those  slow curves brimming with possibilities.
Now I have to choose between zero and infinity, and then again may be I don’t have to. David always sleeps in the master bedroom and I use the spare bedroom or the sofa, carrying my blanket and pillow with me. That night I chose the spare room. I was in a phase with a burst of nightmares. I like nightmares because it is not the death of sleep...
I woke with a rather vague dream, but still it startled me. The darkness cast odd shapes on the wall as it hugged the cold air. Shifting in bed I heard a door close.  Then as I drifted back to sleepy comfort, Eva my daughter screamed; rather a muffled whiny cry of “mommy I am scared, mommy” as I came up to wakefulness.
“It’s just a bad dream little one”, I whispered then as I rocked her to sleep. I held her nine years of fears and smoothed away the hair from her forehead as I scanned the darkness. I saw the darkness cluster into shape and slide into David’s bed.
I lay there listening to every creak of a bed, every movement, as each room waited for light. David, he would leave by three AM, leaving me freedom to sleep for four hours before I got up to go to work. Eva would wake too and I would watch her get on the bus, before I left.
I closed Eva’s bed room door, then moved my purse with our passports and IDs from the pillow to her book bag and pushed it further back under her bed. Then I lay down on the floor, placing my feet firm against the closed bed room door.
I guess a choice of sorts had morphed from my thoughts. The snow continued to pile higher, blown about in the cold retreating darkness.  I would have to reschedule my appointment. Slowly I moved to the phone as the Zero in me unraveled to form a different curve.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yet a dance (a short story set in 1980s by pc3 )



The evening sun painted the western sky; hues that stirred a certain feeling of restlessness tinged with future dreams in the minds of mortals who were given to romantic notions. The peacock’s cries resonated with a restlessness that echoed of a certain despair. It echoed to the far off place where demons stand guard, the place where your fate was seemingly tangled in itself. Looking down from the apartment terrace Maria could catch the last rays of sun glinting off of the peacock’s feathers. Maria scoured the landscape below, searching for that one peacock that will show off all its grandeur. Hopefully it would spread its feathers today, instead of strutting around in the brambles down below.
“Oppa, it is defenitly going to rain today.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I can smell the rain coming…can’t you?”
“Dunno.”
Tasha’s long face glanced at me, with her unruly curls blowing in the breeze. “Here, let me help you with her.”
Tasha was cradled in her mother’s arms as Maria lifted her small body onto the porch. Maria pointed out all the sights possible. Tasha loved listening to Maria’s stories of peacocks dancing before the rain god, a beggar down the street who lost his leg running away to the Mittaiwala. Maria’s stories were always entertaining. Even the vegetables tasted good when she came.
Suma Aunty would come to visit whenever Maria came. She would put on    a show in the backroom that comprised of the new dance moves she had learned. Then of course Maria would try to do some dance steps, mimicking the way Suma Aunty twisted her body. Once Suma Aunty even told her that she was sure Maria knew more dancing than she let us onto. Suma Aunty had to practice so long to contort her body in the exact way, whereas Maria could do it without any practice. She felt Suma aunty was right in that opinion.  
               “How can you predict so definitely that it is going to rain? There isn’t even a drizzle now.”
“I’m sure. I can smell it, Oppa.”
“Thomas you have such a wonderful wife. She even predicts when it is going to rain. You are really lucky. She is so kind - and no pretenses even.” Oppa’s words trailed off into the kitchen. It was no snide remark, just a statement of the obvious, as Oppa always did.
           Tasha played with her dolls, but kept her ears open for any lull in the conversation. She liked to play with Maria, but now Maria was with her mom and aunt. Even Thomas Uncle was there with them drinking that horrible liquid. Kesh (their neighbor who practically lived with them) was so loud today. He would be smelling of them drinks too. They wouldn’t even enjoy the tasty vegetables, a waste really if you asked her. But nobody ever asked her, she was just the little child...
           “You must visit us more often. It’s no trouble - we can always add a handful of rice and a few more pappadums. That will be enough to feed ten more like you,” Oppa said.
“Take good care of Maria.” Oppa’s advise followed them like the distinct smell of liquor as their goodbyes floated across the air. Earlier she had read about wives being burnt at the stake, as though they were witches on trial. Even this, however, could not bring Maria down from her bright mood. After all, how could she be angry on such a sunny day? She was happy that they took a detour through the Mogul gardens in Central Delhi. She wanted to walk barefoot, dream about the grand times of the past, close her eyes and see the Sultan ride majestically through these gardens.
Maria closed her eyes and took off her sandals. She could see the tigers among the wild animals that the king Akbar kept at the back of the garden. She recalled reading about Akbar in her small third grade social studies textbook and saw history come alive before her eyes. She could hear the music and smell the aroma from the “gulab jamuns” and “ rasmilai” that were served to the courtiers. She let her imagination soar, just so briefly. Then, Thomas took a turn.                                               
        She had lost him and this alarmed her quiet a bit. She back tracked few steps and called out, but no response. She went in the direction where they were heading and called, still nothing. Beyond the reeds she could not see. She called out and walked fast along the path that lay in front of her. Yet there was no sign of Thomas. Now stop panicking, breath; Oh God; Then, suddenly Thomas appeared at the far end of the path. Maria ran up to him, grabbing his sleeve she said , almost inaudibly, “I was so scared.”  Maria wanted to tell him how afraid and upset she was.
     “Where the hell did you galavant off to? Let’s go.” he glowered. Did she do something to anger him, upset him, her master and God on this earth, sent from heaven to care for and protect her.‘ Pathi vruthe, bhavathi’—words from some ancient Sanskrit text rang through her mind.

        They walked through the ornate gates and the arbor covered in jasmine. The scent of the jasmines trailed behind as they walked towards a nondescript shop front. The place, called Kulfi palace was overcrowded, people expectantly waited for a seat and strayed as a feathery crowd. Tired and sweaty men and women spilled out of the Kulfi palace and onto the sidewalk. Children waited with the adults cranky and impatient, anticipation written all over their faces. Looking at all those who were waiting, Maria felt exhaustion, no it became an  awareness…Yes, an awareness of exhaustion.
                She wanted to try new flavors, may be Chaat from the Chaat-Walla at the next corner, “chatt”, Thomas had spat out the words in disgust. ‘What even that coolie wont eat that if he had a choice”, he shook his head in the direction of the sweaty crowd that the green bus had regurgitated as it groaned away .The day progressed to  “Rasmalai” at a sit-down palatial booth in south Delhi followed by Paratha and thick buttery chicken curry from a roadside vendor as  take home fare. ‘ Chaat is for stupid people from the south who apes the northerners, mindless fools like Rajesh’ he  expanded by way of an apology. Well she is the wife , now its almost  two months . if only that  hefty dowry was all  cash, then…at least the stupid girl cannot read his thoughts.
          The city crowds thinned out and then thronged along the theaters—people milling on the roads after the movies .These are times and places where one can be lost, never to be found again.
       “Please hold my hand, I don’t want to be lost. Can we go home quick, please”.
       “wait” . .. the rest of what  was said was drowned in the  noises of the evening .  
                Maria wanted to cry. Life was supposed to have certainties, not confusions
She was quiet the rest of the way. Somewhere along in the span of just a day, fear had crested to panic. Now this gave way to anger, an anger that tried to stay at a quiet simmer. Yet the earlier part of the evening was so peaceful. The crowds thinned out as the hot air clung to the city like a canopy. Their tiny room renamed as an apartment breathed in the heat from the concrete and stiffened more. Cry of distant peacocks mingled with the sounds of traffic and lulled Maria to a fitful sleep.
          “Once can we go nearer to a peacock” she asked some time during the night. Thomas had grunted as he turned away. Later as he left for a meeting in the library, She just listened for the whisper of a breeze. “Think not” she whispered to herself, as she uttered prayers to keep company in the night.  Intruders in here dreams  came in through the broken window, carried on the thin cool rays of the half moon, to taint her sleep with fear as she turned, so she prayed again. Oh how she wished she could feel the depth of a restful night, if only those windows had locks, if only they at least pretended to look secure.
       Tomorrow being Sunday Thomas and Maria will start their dance of the day. They will drive past the fields beyond IIT, to a church in Carol-Bagh, on the decaying parts of Delhi. Maria will seek out any wandering peacocks in the field during their drive. The peacocks will strut and move in the thickets then stray into the fields, scratching up the newly tilled soil.
                 “A pest” the farmer will curse “protected bird”, he will say as he lay poisoned traps. The rat-snakes and cobras will sway and slide into the undergrowth as they try to avoid the peacock. But today they all have to beat the heat and rest for their dance tomorrow.
             She didn’t know when or how Thomas landed beside her, his drunken fitful sleep punctuated by an occasional snore. She was only aware that as she tried to snuggle he had turned away, yet again. Out of habit she said another prayer for her ‘God’ prayed for his health and safety, trying not to wake him even with her gentlest touch.