The Creaking Chair - Part XXIII

3:35 PM


04th April 1991

There was a time in my early thirties when I was a rolling stone
stumbling from one gig to another 
like I had only a day to live and I had to achieve all that I could in that day 
and yet I had not reached a stage where I was mastering all that I was doing
or anyway close to it for that matter
It was a race in my head that I was running more than anything else

That was the time when I was writing a lot
so many authors had said that write as much as you can when you are young,
you would thank yourself later 
so I was following the route of quantity 
I set targets for myself and in that rut my focus wavered from the depth of what was penned down
I should have spent more time to let the poetry settle in my head
before it even had the far-fetched chance to settle on a piece of paper 
so most of the work from that time was uncooked; 
but at least there was quantity for me to prune later

I was also dabbling with my musical instincts 
restarted teaching myself guitar over the weekends through an online course (never works !)
Last time I had started learning guitar, it was more out of peer pressure
It was the cool thing to do, I had a group that played guitar and I was gullible 
Hence the classes were more of a drag and the drudgery of practice was too mundane for my liking
I was young and wanted results fast – so jumped from one teen player to another
for quick lessons and chords that could be easily memorized 
but this time I wanted to soak in the process – go slow – go through the drag 
but all in a day’s work ! Regular practice without any show off moves was still too painful for me

Back in my graduation days, I used to take classes for others on Robotics
and I wanted to get back to robotics and programming
that was the hip thing – if you have watched any sci-fi American series 
there was that one guy who could hack through any computer, break any cipher or make any gadget
I wanted to be that cool guy (too)
so I started with my pet project of an automated personal assistant 
and guess what I named it – Jarvis
I had to set up my own server, create my own home automation tools 
and have my own voice controlled responsive assistant

And then there were the other minor gigs 
Sketching – because when I was a kid, I used to like that art of expression and I had a few decent strokes I could strike, never really learnt it with rigor though 
Singing – There was this ever looming pet project with 3 friends of mine (all separately) where I had to start an online channel or create a movie where I would give voice over
Language – I started learning French thrice ! and I had wanted to be conversationally verse in Spanish & Mandarin as well, while I wanted to be able to read Sanskrit 
And then there were a couple of other side gigs I wanted to do work wise

So you would think I had my hands full, driven to make the most of my life 
turns out I was more scared than I was driven 
I was scared of the number 30
and I was scared that I had crossed that dreaded no of years of my life
and I may not even have started on the journey of what I can and must do 
that fear was driving me like a maniac in every direction
to search and look for that one source of inspiration that would put me on the right track
Some of these activities were a defense mechanism to know that I am actively doing ‘something’

And now that I look back
I was not completely wrong in the way I looked at life
that fear drove me to experiment and try new stuff
it made me hungry to learn and never settle 
to go to new places, to meet new people, to do something new each day (or at least try)
but it also makes me realize now, I was running shallow
first the fact that I was running – I had to slow down 
and enjoy the art I was trying to explore rather than do this too while thinking of the next gig
and second, I was dipping my fingers too thin into each of my attempts 
the fact that I had too many options I was trying, meant I was not afraid to fall 
and I was not driven enough to be devastated if I did not deliver the best masterpiece 
so I was always “Just there” but never “Wow, I have arrived”

In hindsight it all makes sense 
but I wish someone was there to tell me to slow down 
life will pass you however hard you try to stop it 
the only way to live life is to stop by and soak the sunshine 
and get drenched in rain on a windy day 
then use the memory of those moments to inspire your art (slowly while enjoying the process)!


P.S. – I ended up learning a mouth organ and playing a guitar is still not my best traits 


The manual of love

11:30 PM


She used to chide me often...I need to tell her how much I love her...express...get her gifts..give her hugs...steal kisses when she least expected...where would u find a girl who comes with a manual on how to be a perfect and caring lover...her friends used to tell me..I'm lucky..

And stupid me..I often told her to be real...just like my love was...expressions I said need not be words..kisses need not always be stolen...smiles need not always be shared...for love does not come with a manual...love comes with a set of wild hearts...bent on taming the other...and its not the ones who win this battle who flourish in love...but its those who learn to loose these battles who live happily ever after...

I still remember our fights...they were somehow different than the fights I had 6 months ago...did we change so much in 6 months...or did our love somberly hijacked logic in our brains...the debate was not if I should tell her how much I love her...the debate was whether it was good to be logical or was it a drag...and a more humane way was to live illogical...

I still remember our first fight...I would certainly remember our last...both left me with the same feeling...someone had finally defeated my words...someone had finally broken free...and now I stand on a moral high ground deciding if I was right or if it was she....does love really come with a user manual...even if it does....I don't think I could ever read one...

~ Ashk 

The Creaking Chair - Part XXII

11:22 PM

22nd September 1992

Pratishtha visited us today after so many years
Kamal had no idea she was coming 
It seems it was Veena who had received her call last week
and had decided to keep it a surprise for Kamal ; 
My son was, let’s say more than surprised to see Pratistha sitting in the living room
as he came back from his evening bicycle ride 
boy, he was flustered

First he looked at me, with the same innocent face 
like the one he made some 17-18 years back when I first got to know about Pratistha and him
I was more angry at him for not telling me that something was going on
rather than the fact that he was dating someone
I had always been cool about it, and I always thought if he ever gets serious he would tell me 
but then he went and told his mom and she unwittingly told me 
I was angry at that betrayal than anything else

But how flustered was Kamal today
it was nostalgic to see him behave like a young college kid who comes back from the playground
and sees that his crush is sitting in his house in front of his parents
only in this case, he was petrified that it was Veena 
for a moment I think he thought, she was angry 
and he wanted to whisk Pratistha away and ask her what was she thinking coming in here

They had dated for almost 3 years during their graduation 
and were dotingly in love – or that’s what they thought
she was a senior to him in his class of engineering
and he was quite the nerd of his batch
their favourite thing was the stroll on the park besides the Jawahar Bridge in rains 
and did he think I did not know of his visit for ‘robotics project’ to her house every second week

It took him some time to recover and get back to his senses
the realization dawning on his face with relief spreading over his entire being
He had told Veena all about all of his rencontres d’amour in life 
and she was having the guilty pleasure of watching him behave like a college kid once again
All said and done, Kamal will open the 15 year old bottle of wine he has preserved for special occasions


P.S. – Kamal thinks no one in the college knew, but his story of waltzing with Pratistha in the park besides the Jawahar Bridge when it rained was quite a story !

P.P.S. – I remember the day when I (who could never shake a leg) waltzed on a bridge on a rainy day with my love. 

funny story – she was super jealous when she got to know I had waltz on a bridge in rain with my first girlfriend in my graduation days and never let her make me dance anytime! I had to make it right 

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


The Creaking Chair - Part XXI

11:15 PM


27th October 1992

Sahil has been very quiet for the last few days 
generally he used to come back from school and be all chirpy
he used to keep pestering me to listen to what happened 
what was the latest trend in the playground 
which technology were the kids of the new generation drooling over 
and of course which girl is he starting to have a crush on

I am like the cool grandpa 
something which Kamal is often jealous off
but he has to raise his game if you wants to compete with me
Just because he is my son does not mean I let him win easily 
especially when it’s about being the BFF of my grand child  
Sahil told me what BFF means

Last month he also asked me to come along with him 
to this gig thing that they do 
it is just like the jamming session that I used to do when I was young
but they do a lot of things there
from singing and music to debates and someone also showcases his paintings on and off
reminded me of ‘Dead Poet’s society’
and I think he was just over enthusiastic to have called me 
he later felt quite relieved that I had told him I would not be coming 

So anyways, he seems quiet for the last few days
and on the edge and jumpy
in my experience, that happens either when you have a solid crush on someone
or you are being picked on by someone who prides himself to be a bully
and I have a feeling that since he is not speaking to me about it
it must be a bully. Sahil is tough but he needs someone to speak to 
I am torn, yeah even at my age and with all the so called wisdom
should I speak or let Kamal know about it and let him speak to his son

I also feel sorry about how my gang used to bully Kristen 
I may have played some part in the pranks as well
but then it was innocent, it was not as horrible as some of the stuff I hear these days 
and we heard of nothing ‘bad’ that could have happened 
so I guess we were not crossing the line 
but then when I was bullied I also always smiled so that no one would hear my stories 
I think best I focus my energies on Sahil and how to help him
maybe I could also call on Kristen and check how has his Harvard degree helped him - what a snob ! 

~ Ashk

P.S. – Amongst all the names I was called when I was bullied, the one I still laugh at today is ‘Sabrina’. How that video found on the internet with misplaced identity spread through in my graduation !!

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


The Creaking Chair - Part XX

6:38 PM


21st February 1986

I have hit a ‘Writer’s block’
I have absolutely no doubt about it 
it’s been 6 days and I am stuck with the same 3 lines 
no new rhythm in my thoughts and no cadence in my words
It’s like being stuck in a passage where you don’t know which side to go
I am not sure if I have to let go of this thought 
and move on to writing something new
or should I persevere with this and be patient

22nd February 1986

I went to a coffee shop today
thinking maybe that would help 
looking at strangers sitting and sipping their Mocha and Cappuccinos 
engaging and thoughtless conversation with a random stranger 
would help I thought to stimulate my grey matter 
as if they would involuntarily push me forward in my endeavor 
to pen down the next 3 lines 
and then maybe I can come back here again and wait for another stranger 
willing enough to come & sit by on the empty chair in front of me
and I would write another 3 lines that night  


23rd February 1986

I have bolted myself shut and promised to myself
that I would only leave this room when I complete this poem
The day has not been so productive, but maybe the night would have my creativity flowing
How do these authors end up producing novels on a trot 
like it is some kind of an assembly line
I remember someone close to me used to tell me
how she envied that I could write so effortlessly
if only she saw me now


24th February 1986

After behaving like a maniac for 3 days, I am back to my senses 
Vishal called – someone told him how stupid I was acting – I have a suspicion I know who told him
Anyway what he said made absolute sense –

“Poetry needs time to precipitate – it’s not another item on your To-Do list,
stop treating it like one & give it some respect !! 
It’s like an angel descending from a higher plane, 
it would take its own time and if you rush it, all you would get is a glimpse of its beauty
Just like rushing a poetry would give you only a glimpse of its skeletal thought
and never of it’s true character”

I will sleep in peace tonight,
Maybe I would end up naming this verse as ‘Writer’s Block’

~ Ashk

P.S. – I did end up completing “The Writer’s Block”. Go read it in the withered diary with a faded horse on its cover. 

P.P.S. – That diary was a gift from one of my favourite couples. I wonder how many gifts to me were diaries !! I must have been an easy person to identify a gift for ! 

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


The Creaking Chair - Part XIX

5:31 PM

4th April 1998

I have a very strong will power
over years, I have been able to resist a lot of my urges 
those which would have caused me much trouble 
and even those which were more innocent 
But being able to control my desires so that they don’t consume me 
has always been something I have prided myself on

And well of course, this is painting a broad stroke 
the picture has a lot of finer details 
times when I have completely given into my urges 
even those which have definitely put me into a lot of trouble 
and also joyful stories if I look back at them now 
I am no saint, right? Remember the five night brawl in the winters of my 33rd birthday?

But then there is one pleasure which I could never give up on
the absolute joy of eating sweets – and I know some of you would never get what I mean
you need to truly admire the release of happy hormones in you 
when you put that morsel of ultimate bliss in your mouth
I had a record in the house where I had eaten a kilogram of rasgulla in one go 
how astounded was my sister !

But the reason I am going on babbling about this 
is because I now need to reduce my intake of sweets 
is what my doctor has told me 
it’s like telling a life long smoker to stop smoking 
ain’t gonna happen ! 
so my days of hiding things in the neck of my table top vase are back 
good that at least Sahil is on my side
we already have a plan

~ Ashk

P.S. – If you have not tried yet, you must eat kala jamun made in the shape of a jalebi. Can’t explain why but the taste is just so much better than the regular Kala Jamun !

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

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