57 times turned over...

10:23 PM

It was one of those evenings when the twilight is in love with itself... Like a mistress on prol.. Inconspicuous... So sure of herself...Like flees falling in the web of mystique... That passion which eludes... Twilight was having a romantic time with herself... 

The moon felt ashamed to be full today... For it dare share the beauty of the evening with the twilight in passion... The sky gave away its allegiance.. As it refused to turn dark... The orange mist across the horizon spread.. Like a smile spreading long after the waft of her scent had passed... 

And there lie the book she was reading....the same page... 57 times turned over...as if in a trance.. Music to her soul...the words danced in her mind... For they were incoherent... There was too much to comprehend for the eyes... And senses alike... For her mind to register the subtleties in between the lines...

As the last bird lost from the flock flew close to the unturned page of the book... Searching for her home... Or running the rebellion alone... She slipped into her sleep once more... Tomorrow would be another day... Tomorrow would again be today... The nurse took her to the bed... 



The Passive Observer - On the other side ...

1:37 AM

Fear, an emotion; I have never felt striking me with such a strong force before. Like the air gushing out of my systems without my will...like the sound of the unknown shrieking in my ears...like a consistent itch...Like I want it to stop..NOW...like i want to be absolved of the guilt that has been gnawing at my consciousness...paralysed by the fear of the act...

I speak for equality...I speak against the acts of horror against women...I speak for a community of men who do not speak on the idea of equal human rights...

But I fear...for I am a Man...a Man who fears the ire of the feminist brigade...a Man who fears the rejection from the community of brother hood....a Man who would be questioned on his orientation if he goes too far to support the cause of the "Pink" revolution...someone who would be looked at with queer eyes and questioning intentions...Courage is always the second step to change...the first is the acceptance within oneself, of and from the community of change...

I may even be seen as an opportunist....someone jumping on the bandwagon at the right time...someone who wants to make it big in the social sector..and what better a 'cause' to join than the issue of equal rights to women.

There is a reason I ended that sentence with a full stop before it finished logically. For it is no longer a matter of equality between 'sexes' or 'gender' that we address...It is still a question of a battle of "You vs Me". It is a debate that demands a solution that ends with "We".

But I fear to make that statement, because male chauvinism has a definition with as wide an interpretation as words can take...

We like...We share...We retweet....when a man blogs about a woman's rights...when a woman understands the challenges men face .... we appreciate those women who speak up and stand up against the challenges they face... But I fear to write about the fears of a man to jump into this battle...

And so I stand and watch...waiting to see which side does the weighing scale tilt and which side wins...and then maybe I shall shout out along with those who celebrate...but is it not the start of what we set out to end....exclusion from the mainstream consciousness of the society...What I need is to fight with you...for you...for the solution is not a win...the solution is an acceptance of exclusivity of the three circles in the Venn diagram...

The first circle representing "Gender", the second representing "Sex" and the third representing "Equal Human Rights"..for all of them are a part of the universal set...and each has its own integrity... but they can not cancel out each other...they need to co-exist as independent entities....

 I speak against the acts of horror against women...and men...

- Ashk

P.S. - To be followed by "The Passive Observer - On this side..."


The memory that Faded..

10:50 PM

So this is how it feels to be that memory which fades away in Alzheimer.. This is how it feels to be eroded from someone's consciousness.. Like a snow ball loosing it's identity in a downhill fall..

So I had thought it would be.. But wasn't it supposed to be sudden.. Like you wake up one morning and you remember not the color of her Cardigan.. Or  the pattern on his tie.. I always thought it would be like the morning hangover of a poorly thought off one night stand.. I never knew it would be like a wave vying to be the last to be remembered or forgotten in your memory on a beach...
So this is how it feels to be looking into the eyes and seeing not yourself but a perplexed look of faint recollection.. Of the scent of his cologne fading away.. Like the smell of her skin after shower fleeting away... Like the change of seasons so confusing.. When did the winter leave... Curling in the blanket... Waiting for the night to never be over... Where did the smell of a summer morning leave.. When did the rains fall.. So this is how it feels to be a memory that is lost to alzheimers
So this is how it feels to not finish a poem... To not let the words rest.. To be unsettled like a lingering wriggle of memory on the wall of his flight.. To be the veil of conscious negligence on her wall of her courage... So this is how it feels to not be...

- Ashk

The Jibe of the Joker

10:47 PM

Without tears he could not breathe... For the fears were way too heavy a lump in his throat... With the tears flowing... He only felt more empty... Like the treasures cherished for months had been lost... Like his life had slowly ebbed away... Like hopes had seeped out...but this time not as words which he could keep in his pen... But as water that would dry.. And leave no trace come the morn.. He felt emptier than he had thought he could feel.. The marks on the wall when he had screamed and scratched searing the burning rage forever into his memory... They now screamed on his face...and he felt blank as if it was a different him who had cried... As if it were not his finger marks on the wall.. As if he din know that animal.. He was after all a docile and honourable man...
The feathers from the torn pillow smeared along the floor of his room... The laughter of the maniac still echoing from the walls... Between reverberating silences of memory... Are u hurting they asked... And then took him into their embrace.. And he let go into the laughter he couldn't control... Insanity was not a refuge... It was home...
Intelligence they said can take you only so far...you needed to be mad to be in the reckoning... And so he laughed... The joker... The scars... The joy... The laughter... The bliss of oblivion... He slept... Sleep was after all an insufferable justice in the eyes of time...
- Ashk

The Conversation

10:27 PM

Child - "What is the strange light, oh father!! which I see each night, when I try to fall into slumber?"

Father - " Its a spirit that resides in every soul,my child... As the darkness of the night takes over, it keeps burning like a fire driving the demons and phantoms of fear away !!"

Child - "But that's Batman..I saw the movie.. Is he real then?"

Father(Smiling) - " Yes my child, you call it Batman or Spiderman or Superman or your old Uncle Harry who keeps appeasing you with those pastries. You can call him anything you want to. It won't mind, because its the imagination of a child, most innocent and the reason your spirit is so strong, undiluted and pure, is because your spirits haven't lost the courage yet"

Child - " I like Pineapple pastries the most" :-) "But pa why do spirits loose courage?"

Father - " Oh yes you do !! They are like your guiding angels, they never leave you. It is we who leave for a walk in the woods and loose our way back home at times. Some say its the spirit that's lost in the jungle. "

Child - " Then do they get lost in the jungle forever?"

Father - "The Spirit in you is like your mother when she finds you fighting with Joseph and coming home with a broken tooth. She's furious 'coz she cares for us, more than you or I can see. She would shout at you and she would be crazy at Joseph, but she will tender your wounds and make that apple pie for you."

Child - " So, the spirit gets angry?"

Father - " Yes son, and we do to, for love and care is a sacred thing. But don't you worry lad, have you ever see Batman not come to aid when the night is dark?"

Child - " But I want to see the spirit. will it show its face?"

Father - " Come along son. Make the face as if you are a lion roaring and ready to pounce on anyone who tries to harm you. now look in the mirror. What you see is the spirit within you. And you know why we never see its face, because we fear, even ourselves, and a child does not fear himself. And that is why you always see the light at night. You have the power, son as do all of us. Its just that as we grow up, we loose our faith in the Batmans and the Supermans, because the world makes us believe in Truth and not in fantasies. So, son don't loose hope and never forget to look into the mirror like a lion, for the light is within you."

Mother - " Mr.philosopher, I told you to tell him a story.If you are having one of your strange talks with my child up there, I swear .... [;-)]

- Ashk 

The War Dream ...

10:22 PM

The night was outrageously humid.. Or were the minute pores of his skin draining out the searing memories he had stored so relentlessly within him.. Over years... Like a coveted prize...his precious..
The moon light tip toed into the cabinet of skeletons.. Had he left the doors open..he had never faltered in all these years.. or had the hinges finally given way... Rusted...his eyes closed.. The vision blurred even when he opened it.. The mist in his room.. He must be dreaming... It was the middle of a humid summer night...
Was he having an out of body experience.. He could see himself laughing...abrupt bursts mixed with sudden gush of emotions...uncontrolled..but he remembered.. Now he was lying back.. He had wanted to set free the emotional blockades for a night... But the mist was not so strong as his emotions should have been..
Perplexed he twisted in his mind... The worlds he saw did not make sense... For the future resembled his past and his present was obscured a vision of him sitting in a stream of ephemeral light... There was a stream.. A waterfall.. A bower... But no smell.. No sound.. For the future was shrieking and the past was melting...
And then he woke... The key had been turned... The red siren rang all around...The war had begun..but he already saw the battlefield inside his head.."Suit up.. We charge now" someone yelled..
Groggy he woke up.. The mist still hovering.. But why.. I am not a soldier.. I was but only dreaming, he thought as the bullet shot past his left ear...His mad laughter echoed and he closed his eyes telling himself again - "I am not a soldier"...


Letter to Santa

10:40 PM

Dear Santa,

First of all I would like to thank you for that beautiful barbie that you gave to me, last Christmas. Martha said it was the most wonderful doll she had ever seen. Mom always says we must thank people for what they do to us

But this Christmas, I want from you the only gift I'll ever ask from you. Because I have decided not you ask you anything else, once you give me this,for this is all my world is.

On 11 September 2001, Tuesday, dad went to office, but he did not come back home.
Mum told me it was the special Tuesday, when God needed the best people from Earth to do a certain very important job..something to prevent the Apocalypse... or something like that...She said it was in the Bible, when the world falls over...

So, he sent a plane for daddy to come to him as well...so that i must be proud that my dad is fighting to save the world...

But Santa, I love my dad and so dearly miss him.

I only want you to turn that special Tuesday into a regular Tuesday... So that Dad will dress just like you this Christmas and i can pull his long beard...

Waiting for your gift

Love you,
25 December 2001  


The Creaking Chair - Part V

1:13 PM

18 June 1988

Was it sandalwood or Rose?
The smell of incense sticks – a lazy Sunday morning
One where I woke up before 1 PM; a rarity
The days of youth come with their own little jar of idiosyncrasies
Its own set of preformed notions about rules…
Just like my grandson frowns at me for being such a pain, as he says
Nagging him to wake up early, to do his bed, to not leave food on his plate

I always wondered why the flavor of the incense sticks
always was sandalwood in the writings
And never Rose or Jasmine…or Mogra for that matter
Was it because it sounds more imperial or royal
Or was it because I read selectively
Picked up authors who would never write about
Mogra incense stick spreading its scent in the backdrop
of an Indian student living in an English household

But the ideas was not about the incense stick
Or the ideosyncracies of the aged
Or the preformed notion of rules in the mind of my young mind

I intended to write about my fight with Paul
on Religion
To be or not to be is the question
He could quote Shakespeare or Dostoevsky where you never imagined him to
I used to admire that – still do – it’s just that we don’t get to talk much now a days
Alzheimer’s has taken him to its own world of Shakespeare’s sonnets and Pablo Neruda poems

But we did have a debate that day
On Atheism, on the roots of religion,
On how I was a passive agnostic (I still don’t agree that those syllables together make any sense)
They sound like a glorified way of calling yourself an atheist while still being religious

But we did have an argument that Sunday morning
On whether the lighting of incense stick
First thing after my Sunday morning bath
With the mud colored towel still wrapped around my then athletic waist
Was an abominable attempt to run away from my identity
An argument on how I was trying to hide my nakedness  
in the garb of the rising fumes of burnt sandalwood

I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”, and I’ll do it till he feels guilty
I knew for sure that he added the second half of the quote
But couldn’t refute for I had not yet read ‘The Godfather’

Out of all the Sunday mornings I spent with Paul (8 to be precise)
This one is etched like yesterday night’s dew on my fading memory
I guess I should pay him a visit
I could check if he is still a pious atheist or has Alzheimer’s made him forget that too…

P.S. Go to 1952 for the real fight – My diary entries were much more factual & less philosophical back then – but then those were the days of preformed notions of rules for the young me..

- Ashk

For the complete series, visit - http://www.ashksymphony.com/p/the-creaking-chair.html

The Creaking Chair - Part IV

1:07 PM

07 March 1949 

Sitting on the patiya on the tea stall
corner of the Jamnabai street
cigarette smoke having a duel with mental fumes
Anger - a newly discovered emotion it felt
The blacksmith pounding hammer on red hot iron
inside his head explosions of hatred intermingled with fear

The sound of the passing train
Like the wheels of revenge running in my head
'Why did I never embrace this feeling before,
Is there any emotion as vivid as this?'

Drop of hot chai fell on my feet
bringing him back to the moment
sweat drenched face of Golu, the chai wala's son
running around dodging people, balancing 5 tea glasses in his tiny hands
If only he had known how angry I was

Like the simmering heat of the Sahara desert
shaking with rage my hands were a rebellious soul
The sound of shattered glasses echo in my head even today
Poor lad didn't know where did the stars strike from
Looking with innocent eyes for explanation

Fear finally winning the duel
Would have apologized had only I had had a voice
parched throat,
The rebel now trembled with guilt
With bashful eyes and arrogant disbelief, I escaped

Anger fueled guilt and guilt fuels anger
I came to you,
Today was the day I cried for the first time in your arms

P.S. This is the first time I have had a fight with you, and u remember how angry I was when u made that cake for me when we met after the fight, with all those sinister plans in my head.
Today wisdom taught me to be angry at myself, and you taught me to handle anger

P.P.S. (Added 23 July 1998) - Now you know why I never drank tea.

- Ashk

For the complete series, visit - http://www.ashksymphony.com/p/the-creaking-chair.html


Writer's Block

11:11 PM

The lamp flickered rather ominously,
threatening to burn out any instant..
two hours and forty minutes,
that is how long he had sat there...
Just waiting for some inspiration to dawn,
some sensible flow of rhythm in his words
to draft them into what he would vaingloriously call Poesy...

Winter rains, he was told were a writer's paradise,
Did he need to be told?
He had reminded himself so umpteen times...
Mist for mystique,
The patter of rains for music,
The algid breeze for thrill,
The shiver at its touch for concupiscent arousal,
The morning sunlight through the fog for the gentle love...

Yet all in vain,
there was no cadence,
words were as jumbled an expression within him,
as were the random spread of vibrant rainbows on the morning dew,
each holding multitudinous reflexion,
withal lacking speech...

'A slave you would become to verses',
he was often told,
'what crime?' , he would argue...
only to be shot at with glaring eyes,
'Its engulfing you,can't you see?
God,I had only heard of cocaine addiction!!!'

Reflecting through,
he had not slept for the last two nights,
this being his third;
if only he managed another 34 minutes of insomnia...
Night and sleeplessness had worked for him,
more times than he remembered,
then why not now?
It was obfuscating....

'Its turning into a duel,more than love'
he remembered them say,
'Your words are battling your verses,
in this perpetual struggle,
creating symphony that someday would overpower you'
'But they are just a flow,like music,
the intoxication can't surpass the craving for spirit...'
his meek counterargument...

The lamp finally went out,
unnoticed in his trance,
he still sat with open eyes,
inking on parchments like gibberish scribbles,
he did keep awake for another night....


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