The Creaking Chair - Part XVIII

12:06 AM

24th August 1999

Today evening was a surprise for me
Kamal came and sat besides me on the sofa 
and slowly he rest his head on my lap and lay down there
Though he makes it a point that he spends at least an hour with me daily
either during my morning ritual of reading the newspaper 
or the evening time when we have the badminton matches 
he rarely shows any sign of such sentimentality

To start with I was worried 

I did not know what was going through his mind
but I knew he was tired, I could sense that in the way his body weighed on my legs
it was as if he was letting go of all his the weight he was carrying 
I started to speak, but then I saw his eyes were closed 
like he was in thinking of something old 
reliving a memory I should not infringe on

He has been troubled for sometime now 
I guess its been a couple of months – it shows on his face 
and the way he goes inside his shell when he is troubled
even as a child he used to be highly impressionable 
but selective on whose impressions he wanted to imbibe 
rarely did I see him shouting at his friends or cousins 
and I could feel the weight of all of those years slowly letting off as he lay on my lap

Last time when he felt so heavy was when he had decided to quit his work
that’s when he took to follow his passion – or that’s what they call it in today’s world 
It had taken me 14 years to make him follow my pattern 
one of choosing life and its mysteries over the ties of the worlds around 
and he had told me how it was totally worth it 
our conversation on how seriously we humans take our work 
and how much of our life we give to it – knowingly & unknowingly 
still remains as one of my most cherished memories – for it changed me & him for good

Him, because it made him realize what he was missing out on
it gave him the courage to do things which he was otherwise fearful to do
dreams he was otherwise fearing to dream 
Me, because it made me realize how I was right when I took that plunge 27 years ago
and it made me go deeper into the reasons I did it 
then it was more for to be called ‘the one who took the plunge’
now I realize it had a much deeper reason – something revolving around self-discovery


P.S. – Kamal had one of those days when he just wanted to let go and rest and he wanted to remember his childhood – my lap was the only memory which he could touch and transport himself back.

P.P.S. – It was a new experience for a son to watch his grown up dad lying like that on the laps of his old man..

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


The Creaking Chair - Part XVII

3:05 PM

12th November 1999

One of the first books I picked up as a kid
was a random cover about the Greek Gods – and I was hooked
It was my first tryst with books other than my school books
and I was only a 11 year old kid, so obviously I was excitable
I used to go around asking people in the middle of a conversation 
‘what is your favourite book?’ – more like a hook for them to ask me the same thing, 
irrespective of whatever they answered 
And I would go on describing how I had found this book which described the history & mythology of Greek Gods
and how they should definitely pick it up – of course I don’t remember the author !

The sheer pleasure of getting hooked to words, I guess
coupled with the innocence of a child 
But somewhere my love for mythological characters, superheroes, Demi-Gods & super-villains with mythical powers originated from that innocent choice of book
And this is one of the reasons that I went to the Norway
well the allure of ‘Northern Lights’ came much later in my decision matrix to be frank 
I wanted to be in the land where the mythology originated

Two and a half months of travel through the Scandinavian land
And among other things which captivated me was the weather on some of those days 
the constant mist, the coldness and the sogginess of the day 
looking and searching for the sunlight and enjoying the clouded dampness 
I found it romantic in its own way and also mystic 
I think more mystic than romantic 
I was young and with a different temperament

I don’t know when did the transformation happen,
but I had started liking sunshine more than the constant cold of a misty day 
I could feel the lyrics of Beatles’ song in my bones 
the warmth of the sunshine hitting me and making me smile and cry 
not in a sad way though, like in a hopeful way 
but what is amusing to me is the shift from one spectrum to the other 
and the absolute love and joy for both when I was in those times

That’s what time does to you, I think 
experiences in life and your cravings decide how you feel about not just the weather around you, but so much more
and if you decide to stop and look back you would find it a fascinating journey
like for me the placement of my bed along the window side 
where I enjoyed the patter of the rain against the glass with an opened curtain 
while I drifted off to sleep
to moving my bed to the other corner of the room, 
closing off the curtain during the rainy nights 
and be content with the dim background noise of the rain pelting outside 
it was more symbolic of the shift in my temperament than I realized then


P.S. – The only thing which can put me to sleep though when nothing else can is the sound of Thunderstorms !


The Creaking Chair - Part XVI

6:13 PM

The Creaking Chair – Part XVI

15th June 1999

I have not been writing for the last 2 weeks
It is not the pattern I generally follow 
The last time I stopped writing my journal was when I was in the prison
but I had a sharper memory at that time 
so could remember all my thoughts to be filled in the journal later
The last 2 weeks were different though

I caught some infection and felt horribly weak 
it started as a throat infection & then started having chills & fever
lasted 2 weeks, but now I feel better 
but these days took me back to the times when I was writing my PhD thesis
There were so many topics I had shortlisted
and one of them which I had let go was “The true value of time”

But had done quite a lot of work around the topic
I found the entire idea of having a currency called ‘time’ quite absurd
and fascinating at the same time
how it controls everything we do – it has possibly the most control over our lives than anything else does
We invented time to ensure we have more focus & structure to our days
But how it confused the hell out of us – the entire conundrum of what happened before Big Bang
which they say is when time began

But then again, I was reminded more of the title & its implications 
“The True Value of Time”
If you knew you had only 2 hours of free time before your shift at work started 
you would know what to do with it 
and more importantly your loved ones around would know what to do with that time 
you would play, talk and ‘spend quality time’ together

What happens when you don’t know how much time is left before the start of the shift?
You can either worry about it and waste the time you have in the present 
hating the fact that you don’t know when would you be called 
or you can relax and let not time take a grasp of your mind and stay free till you can 
I sensed anxiety in Sahil’s voice during the first week 
he was fearing time, or possibly, the lack of it

It’s about time I finish that thesis too I guess
just for the records maybe..

~ Ashk

P.S. – Why was I in prison? Go read about my days in the North East States and the one time in the State Capital

P.P.S. – Sahil made Veena gift me a typewriter when I felt better. He wants me to start writing him letters. Some of my idiosyncrasies are rubbing off on him I think. 


The Creaking Chair - Part XV

11:12 PM


30th November 1986

I like Suzanne
But the only thing which we can speak of now-a-days 
revolves around politics and the shift in world power 
discussing if it is for the good or bad ;
of the country, the people and more importantly world in general
Now you would think that this is good 
Conversations with substance and not just idle love making 
That sounds like a relationship to look out for

Well if I were to compare myself and my interest in politics
to any species in the Animal Kingdom apart from the Homo Sapiens
I would come closest to a Panda or a Polar Bear 
And she would be the Chimp or the Bee or the Ant  
So it’s not really a fair match

And well to be frank, I am not apolitical
I am aware of the nitty-gritties’ of the left wing and the right wing ideology
And all that rhetoric which falls in between 
I also have a well defined process of assimilating the political opinion 
and the art of political warfare 
But what I am not comfortable with is carrying my political belief on my arm
and picking up fights wearing that arm band 
for I won’t win an election or a war – but possibly tie a knot on the thread of my current relationship

I have a longer blog post on this thought which I have put out 
so if you are reading this, do not judge me lopsided on these surface thoughts alone 
Neither is this lack of courage or a desire of escapism 
It skirts on pragmatism with a hint of indifference 
but deeply entrenched in the fabric of moral principles 
It takes a deeper intent to make a difference in a matter 
than to have a rhetorical conversation on a decision taken miles away 
Judging on the spectrum of rigid beliefs to fluid conservatism

Remember what George Orwell said & I quote 
‘ All the war propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, 
comes invariably from people who are not fighting’
Political debate is no exception

But then I think it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable 
in the field you feel so passionately about 
and maybe we would reach that place over time 
for now it’s an exploration..


P.S. – I later learned Suzanne was a major in Political Science from Berlin. Some secrets she kept from me, some vulnerabilities I never exposed – so I guess we were even..


The Creaking Chair – Part XIV

2:46 PM

11th July 1999

“I am writing to you in a state of unbridled passion
I have intoxicated myself on poetries from Pablo Neruda 

and the 90’s Bollywood love songs 
Remember how you found my love for ‘Zara Zara’ from RHTDM 
to be hopelessly romantic !
I am in one of those moods right now 
And it’s pouring outside completing the setting for reminiscence

It’s funny how in spite of calling myself a poet,
I have never written many letters to you 
That is supposed to be the thing with lovers who are poets, right?
Wasn’t that my biggest pull when I tried to woo you? 
Oh those were the days !
The butterflies in the stomach, the incessant checking for text messages
Do you even know how many times, I wrote an entire poetry 
just because I wanted to tell you something 
and was too shy to speak to you directly

How far have we come from there
From writing messages through my words 
to concealing messages between my words 
and you still read me; with all my apostrophes and full stops.”

I found this handwritten note in one of Pablo Neruda’s anthologies yesterday 
I think it was ‘twenty Love poems & a song of despair’ 
the letter was half-written, in fact I was just getting started
and I don’t remember why did I stop
This was the time when she was in a foreign land 
and we decided to experiment with letters so that we would have a story to tell later
Maybe it was a call from her that made me stop writing 
or it was the use of full stop – like a valve shutting off the flow of thoughts & emotions

~ Ashk

P.S. - Should it be ‘Lovers who are poets’ or ‘poets who are lovers’?

P.P.S. – The letter must have been somewhere in the early August of 1949 or 1950

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

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