Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Religion is beyond superstitions and political propagandas. 

It is that 5minutes of solace you find when you bow your head and breathe in the incense. The tinkle of the bell, the beads of the rosary, the momentary silence.

It reflects in the words written eons ago. Names of deities written with such painstaking love and beauty.
The reciting of scriptures that carry even deeper meanings (should one care to decipher them) and the relief (delusional as it may seem) one feels when one places oneself in the hands of something greater.

In the last pews of the church, religion sits between clasped hands. In the light of the dawn, it shivers with the wick of the lamp.

On one hand, it has been twisted by men over the ages. On the other, it has expanded it's folds to include millions who had nothing else to believe in. And kept them afloat.

Religion does not requires blind belief. It requires understanding.
- Akshay
'Aaj rang hai ri ..'

She could hear ammi's record player whirring to life as she stepped out gingerly. Her footsteps measured, her heart thumping, her breath taut with anticipation.

The very whiff of gulaal in the air made her shiver with excitement. Before she could breathe it all in, apa's bangle laden hand had dragged her away.
The distant drums that reverberated in the old lanes of the forgotten city. The air thick with shreiks of laughter, giggles and guffaws.

The hands that surrounded her. Soft, scented, wrinkled, rough, their palms submerged under the layers of colours upon them. Their fingers reeking of bhang. Their crudeness dissolved into mirth as they brushed layer upon layer on her.
She could count only so much. Her cheeks had been draped and coated, her hair suffused with dust, her clothes clinging to her threadbare frame, her ears itchy, her forehead smeared, her head reeling as she soaked it all in.

It wasn't until Ammi came running with her stick and dark glasses that she realised how long had she been standing there.

It was the one day of the year when she did not need those appendages. She had felt all that she needed to see.

'Aaj rang hai ri ma, rang hai ri
More khwaja ke ghar rang hai ri'
( They are playing rang at my Lord's house today)
Ammi's record had been crooning all this while.

- Akshay

It was in that tiny storeroom, that she conversed with her dead grandmother.

Everything about the house was unremarkable. Patched plastered walls, creaking gate, the toilet with the wobbbly latch and dimly lit interiors.
If you could make your way up to the dark little storeroom on the roof, you'd be sorely disappointed. Cobwebs, a large trunk, old tricycles, rusted cribs overloaded with junk. A huge pile of Lakshmi-Ganesh dumped unceremoniously on diwali, year after year.
Smiling, crumbling, blessing.

It was here that she took shelter. Shelter from the constant humming of the flies, the roar of the mixer grinder, her aunt's ear splitting burps, farts and snores. Her mother gossiping away with the neighbours, dragging skeletons back to life.

It was here that she had met her grandmother. Buried deep below the moth bitten sarees and boxes of glass bangles. In stacks of neatly lined, single ruled notebooks.

It was here that she discovered her grandfather, with his monstrous moustache and ivory spittoon. Her mother, cunning little notorious village brat ( not surprising ). The kitchen filled to bursting with activity and the cows that mooed to the chorus.

They talked for hours. They discussed village politics, period pains, demanding husbands, scheming neighbours, home brewed medicines and joint aches. They rode hand-in-hand through the village bazaar. They lay on the roof and chalked out the 'saptrishi'.

In that tiny little storeroom, they broke every barrier that existed. And talked.

- Akshay

She wondered how many other women celebrated their rape anniversary.

Fancy water sprinkled flowers, greeting cards, copy-pasted facebook replies and overseas skype calls with the rapist.

The night was as vivid as ever. Smudged mascara, cheeks taut with makeup, hennaed hands, millions of pins holding together an ensemble of fakeness. Fake jewellery, fake designer lehanga and above all, fake smiles throughout the night.

Mr. MNC from NYC was a myth. A blur of blurred HIs over LED screens and a balding hairline seen through the haze of that one coffee meet.
He appeared equally drained. The sweat glistening on his bulging cheeks. His breath heavy with the effort of tucking that tummy in the sherwani.

A touch, a grasp, an amateur forced kiss. Before she knew, his hands were everywhere. Unpinning, unwrapping, untwining.
Undoing. Undoing it all.

The moves were sloppy, his breath reeking of Old Monk and chicken tikka. He was soft and gentle. That was all she could say. Unmindful of her frigidity and weak tired whimpers.
Before she knew, it was all over. Forever.

He called now and then. And visited when he could. She lay with him. Pretended. Acted. Sighed. Endured.

She wondered how many other women celebrated their rape anniversary.

- Akshay
At 6PM, there was nothing beautiful about the red light area.

The very stench that hung in the air. Overflowing gutters, urine soaked walls, clothes dangling over the balconies, discarded jasmines, cheap air fresheners, sweat, and desperation.

Flimsy sarees, low cleavages, sequinned blouses, petticoats and nighties. Paan stained grins, hitched up lungis, scrawny kids, Runa Laila crooning over the radio, flickering street-lamps and boarded up windows.

At 6PM, two little chappal clad feet ran out of the house. There had been no customers that day. Ammi had no reason to throw her out. Still, she ran.

She ran past the lecherous men, dodging the eunuchs and the piles of dung instinctively. Her head towards the sky, her hair let loose, her grin wild. Waving and blowing kisses.

The passengers in the flight above, had no idea how beautiful they were.

- Akshay

In a world filled with discrimination, hatred, propagandas and bullying .. be a Dobby.

Be the smallest, most insignificant being. But wake up every day with determination in your heart. Suffer (until you can change the world), but do not let those sufferings break you.

Step out of the law. Do not care about the government or rules. If it is to save those who matter to you. Even though you might have to burn your hands or beat yourself for it. Be a Dobby.

Speak the truth. Even if you shiver with fright. Look them in the eye and tell them that they are cruel and wrong. Do not start a revolution or blindly follow whatever your entire species has been doing for ages.
Embrace who you are. And fight to get what you stand for. Even if the entire population tells you that you are not normal.
Fight until you get your sock. And wear it proudly. Be a Dobby.

Find yourself an ideal. And dedicate your life to it. Be courageous enough to take a dagger in your heart for it.

In a world where each one of us is struggling to 'belong'. In a world where it's comfortable to be a Winky or a Kreacher.... be a Dobby. 

He danced, the destroyer Himself !
She, the destruction he bespoke of

Grace, bliss, the very music in motion
Insanity, rage, the fire that won't be quenched

He moved to the rhythm of the cosmos
To the beats of his companions

She danced to the wails that erupted
The screams echoing in the wilderness beyond

He was the stone chiselled to life
She, the flames that erupted beneath

He radiated infinity, agile and ageless
She reeked of death, slow and surpassing

They danced to the very end
Or was it the same spoke of wheel
Turning over and over again?
Who could tell?

- Akshay

You have to be a misfit to LOVE Harry Potter.

It's about a gangly abused teenager, his low self-esteem friend and a strong headed nerdy girl.
There is the bullied one (Neivelle ), the eccentric one (Luna), the outspoken one (Ginny), the soft hearted giant (Hagrid), the lonely brilliant gay man (Dumbledore), the ones shunned and feared by society (Sirrius and Lupin) and the odd-one-out (Dobby).

You have to be a misfit to fall head over heels for them.

- Akshay

After ages, she stepped out naked. Her hair tousled, her arms tingly, her thighs gently rubbing against each other. 

For as long as she could remember, she hadn't been naked. She shut her eyes against the ruthless wind and let the sea foam wash over her. 
She had been taught to cover her flabby arms in sleeves, her pendulous breasts heaving in bras, her Caesarian scar wrapped under layers of satin.

No one. No one had told her how good it felt. To raise your unshaven arms, long dirty nails digging into messy hair, to part those legs and squat on the chair. Naked.

To not suck in that belly. Not tuck it in. Not tighten it. Hide it. Let it all be there. Open to Mother Nature. Open to a million different eyes that won't care.
To let it go.

After ages, she stepped out naked.

- Akshay
Hinduism is under threat. It is being damaged beyond repair.

Hinduism emerged from the worship of the Sun, the Wind, the Water and all that that surrounded men. It slowly opened it's arms to worship food, animals, statues, words, music and even disease.
It embraced bhakti movement, maintained it's orthodox traditions and humbly bowed before the tantric sects that flourished at the periphery.

Time and again, Hinduism (like any other religion) has been twisted for power.
The Learned ones moulded it to create castes and create a niche for themselves.
The Rich joined hands with them to turn simple rituals into elaborate celebrations, making the devotee place the Gods and the kings on the same pedestal.

Never has Hinduism taught violence. There are texts upon texts on the beauty of the diety, on ways of living life, codes of conduct and righteousness.
Even the most 'barbaric' of Tantra traditions teach the follower to inflict pain on oneself. It advocates self suffering to crush the ego and make oneself humble.

The enemy is always Ego. The magnanimous ego of Ravana, the blind pride of Duryodhana, the narcissistic rage of Mahishasura.
Even the Gods follow their own codes of conduct and suffer when they wrong others.

The kind of narrow minded (read, intolerant) image that is being projected in modern day India, is the greatest damage that could be inflicted on Hinduism.

- Akshay.
I'll sit by the window
And watch life pass by

The faithful old MTC bus
Tottering along at it's own pace
Rickety, unhinged, precarious
As it jostles with humanity

I'll watch them enter, I'll watch them leave
Swaying along the winding roads
Sweating, struggling, seething
Hanging on for their precious life

I'll watch the rain lash and sun burn
I'll snuggle and put my head on the glass
Doze off when the terminal beckons
And start all over again.

I'll sit by the window
And watch life pass by

- Akshay

'Babul mora naihar chooto jaye'

The car smelled of papa. She rolled down the windows, pressed hard on the accelerator and popped a random cassette into the player. Of all the places, this wretched car smelled of papa.

The home held no trace of him.His battered Rolex, his shirt flung over the sofa, his cassettes stacked next to the TV, his half-finished biscuits, the cup stains he'd leave all over the house. Nothing.
Amma had wiped it clean. Not with her usual ocd vigor. With a vengeance.

Here, in the rickety old Maruti, he lingered. In the ash under the seats, in the dusty compartment, in the scent of OldSpice that would not go away. In the jerky gear handle and wobbly seat, he lingered.

She instinctively ran her hands through her hair. And held only cropped rough stumps. She had chopped off her tresses when they wouldn't let her burn his pyre. Nothing. Next came the tattoos, the nose ring, the kohl lines eyes, the cuts on the wrists and the emaciation.

She kept driving. Blew a puff and stared dreamily at the deserted stretch of road that lay ahead.

Over the stereo, Begum Akhtar crooned,
'Babul mora naihar chooto jaaye....'
( Father, I am leaving my home behind)

- Akshay

'Balmwa, tum kya jaano preet'

No one had told her that breakups were this bad. From best friends to magzines, each stipulated a certain period. Each prescribed certain rituals, gave the same advices over and over again.

But nothing prepared you for this. For the sheer terror of getting out of bed. The feeling of dread that sunk in when you opened your eyes. And felt thoughts rushing in. Every sms that beeped, every object he had left behind, every friend who faked sympathy, every nook and corner, every day that went past.

The curling of the toes, the stiffening of the arms, squeezing the eyes close in the hope of exorcising it all. The blanket that seemed to shut everything out. The pillow that would bear the fury of it all.

The house was chaotic. Scattered clothes, fallen hair, half-smoked stubs, the stench and the stifling.

She chose to get up. Shivered as the toes brushed against the floor. The cold of the wintery morning seemed to have settled in. Nature had a sense of humour.
She looked around with slits for eyes. Her hair undone. Her gait unsteady. Her hands grasping forgotten territories.

The handle of the cupboard seemed frozen. She jerked it open, almost stumbling upon the chair nearby.The nauseating smell of naphthalene balls and cloistered life.

She groped around in a frenzy. This darkness she wasn't used to.
Her hands finally grasped the wooden handle. The strings twanged a bit. It seemed a mockery almost. Nature, life and love .. Were all in harmony.

The weight of the tanpura was enough to make her sway on the spot. She sat down. Her back frigid. Her head throbbing. The strings cutting lashes into her frozen fingers. Her throat rebelled. Raspy, dry and wanting.

After what seemed like an eternity, she managed to hum. An old thumri. A new context. Or maybe the context was old too.
'Balamwa, tum kya jaano preet..'
( Beloved, what do you know of love? )

A ray of watery sunlight seeped in through the window behind her. Through the mustiness.