After 24 Years

Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy
Old friends, memory brushes the same years, silently sharing the same fears.

~ Old Friends, Simon & Garfunkel

1992.

Late May-ish, it was, I think. The results were out. And depending on what they said, we’d either be graduates, or had to go through six more months, to appear again and then, perhaps, graduate.

He graduated. He scored well and was one of the high scorers. I did too. Neither at the top, nor at the bottom. We had to celebrate. Not because we had graduated, but we (mostly me) had escaped the stigma of another exam.

We smuggled some rum in my room that evening. (Sorry, Mom, Sis.) Sat in the balcony. Closed the doors tight, so that the family wouldn’t know. I’d tell them of the result tomorrow morning. This evening, for some reason, belonged to us. We sat on the warm floor of the balcony, dehydrating in the dry summer of the Deccan; we drank for a while. The sense of that moment was overwhelming. We were officially released into this big bad world. If I remember well, we didn’t talk much, to start with. What others scored was not important to us. At that one wonderful moment, nothing and nobody seemed to matter.

“Get away,” he said, without warning, ominously.

I looked at him blankly; (still) sober, surprised. It was still our first drink of the evening.

“You are better than the rest of us,” he offered.

“You’ve seen my scores, right?” I asked. A useless attempt at humour.

“They are no indicators of what you are capable of,” he seemed angry and concerned at the same time.

The conversation continued back and forth, for the rest of the evening. It seemed to me, he had made his plans to get away too. He was concerned for me, I thought, because I seemed to be emotionally involved, with the place and the people. We didn’t have much to drink, but it was one of the best evenings I have ever had. I should have known, that day onwards, that the volume of alcohol has no bearing on the quality or the value of a conversation.

*

We got away, soon enough. Both of us. And then we went far away. From the reference point, and from each other. Henceforth, we met, perhaps, once in a couple of years. Yes. That far away. Far can be measured in many ways: intimacy, emotion, geography, distance, beliefs, and communication.

*

2176: Rings of Time

24 years go by. In this period we met often, or not at all for ages. We worked together, even, for a few months. He calls me, today. From his new far-away.

“We are not made for this world,” he says. I agree with him, and say that I know this from 24 years ago.

“No, that was about you. It applies to me too, now.”

*

On a 24-year-evolution scale, he has evolved faster than me. We get into a conversation that tumbles between our current age and our 20-year selves.

Nothing has changed between us, but everything is different in this world.

January 2016 Schizophrenia

As the first month comes to an end, the only sport that I am really passionate about (other than other sports) goes live. My home team wins the first game, and as usual, I am not happy about how they win it. In this third season of #ProKabaddi much has changed, so, I’ll post more after the first rounds are done. (Need to get my head around it)

*

I am losing currency, in certain places. No! It’s not about money. There’s another meaning of that word: “the fact or quality of being generally accepted or in use.” If you look up the dictionary, this is the second meaning; I think it should be the first.

*

And we speak with ourselves. It’s weird. We do it when we are alone. We suspect, we are going mad. So we shunt it. And, suddenly, there’s no conversation. Our robotics continue. We accept it. We slowly and surely forget our purpose.

*

I am glad (and blessed) that I can laugh about when people make jokes about me. I have the ability to laugh at myself. Laughing at a joke is not an endorsement or a betrayal of our beliefs. If we are true to ourselves, then, we can laugh at all the mockery. But no joke can offend us or alter what we believe. Humour is ephemeral; beliefs are permanent. If you know that, you will laugh more. I laughed a lot today.

*

Losing trust is an important milestone. Like a shattered glass, there is no coming back. And if there is coming back, it is meaningless. I lost trust. If, for whatever reason we came back together, would you want it? Because I would continue to be a stranger and distant. You don’t seek that, do you? You seek status quo. But I am guarded because of your earlier transgressions. Even if we become the same as before, we will never be the same as before. At least, I will not be.

*

Truth is not always the best way to express yourself. Truth hurts. Truth, is how you usually drive people away. Be smart.

Honesty may be the best policy, it’s not the smartest. Or, just apply this policy at every nook and corner.

We are all different, that way. 

In Defence of Abstraction

Once upon a time, I used to write well.

During that time, I wrote about A Discrete Process of Abstraction. A couple of months later, I wrote About Coach 78519. But the Coach post isn’t relevant to this post. Or maybe, it is. We’ll know at the end of this post.

Yesterday, someone I know on Twitter, wrote about writing honestly. That someone was writing about the struggles that are the afflictions of a writer. One, there is comfort in style, but then, it leads to sameness. To make it interesting, a writer, perhaps, may take refuge in abstraction. And then, that someone on Twitter, wondered if it’s an exercise in creating an image. While not directly saying so, that someone, wondered, if abstraction was honest?

(I keep saying “that someone” because I do not have permission to name “that someone.”)

Abstract artists, perhaps have the answer. They have been at it for so many years. Someone, has an answer. To be deceitful, we hardly need abstraction. I think you would agree. If we have lived a long enough life, we have experienced deceit. Without any abstraction. People make mistakes, for sure. That’s different. People are confused. That’s different too. People are lost. That’s very different. Being willingly deceitful is a separate art. We may mistake someone’s mistake, confusion, or loss as deceit. That’s different too. That’s misunderstanding. And can be easily resolved.

Is abstract writing honest? It depends on the intention of the writer. In the same way that discrete writing is. But it doesn’t matter, I think. For we as recipients, of abstraction can make our own meaning. Now that’s a risk that the creator takes. And even if the creator is honest, the abstraction may be misinterpreted.

What attracts us to explicitness? Is it infinitely more relatable? Or is it because there is less effort, or laziness, on our part to think, to imagine, to experience?

When a writer takes refuge in characters and personas to tell a story, is the writer being dishonest? There is really no difference between a reader and a writer. Both humans. Both strong. Both weak. In different areas. But both humans, nonetheless. We are bound by emotions. And that is what we should be feeling. Not second-guessing intentions. If you feel a writer is using abstraction (or any other device) as a cover, so be it.

If you still are in doubt, think poetry.

3635: Stone Backed

A friend once told me (not in these exact words) that, ‘being vulnerable is not about standing naked in the middle of the road during peak hours and shouting out loud the deepest of your emotions, regrets, and fears.’

Honesty, is in the expression. Not in the form of expression.

*

PS: Now, I think the Coach post is relevant. If, you have read the first post I have linked. I did not, in the Coach post, give you any details. But it happened. That’s how I felt. It was honest, as honest can be. Is that enough, or do you want the details?

Regretfully, Yours…

What’s so bad about a regret? Why has, “I have no regrets,” become an anthem of sorts?

I have no idea. Perhaps it’s a power statement. The demonstration of how we move forward. Or, a show of strength. If we do regret things, we don’t have to find the tallest building and announce it with a megaphone. But we don’t have to be squeamish about it, either.

After a life, a bit over four decades, I have no qualms to say that I have regrets. When you have lived a life this long, without exception, you have done at least one thing that you wish you hadn’t; or, you had. I’ve done many of those kinds.

It does not change who I am, unless of course, who I am is a factor of what you think of me. See, that, I cannot control or manage. Regrets are good. In the least, they inform us of what could have been, Sometimes, we don’t get a second chance. But, if we do, regrets are a practical guidance device. If we want them to be.

This is a directed post. But most of those, who are the intended recipients, will not get it. Mostly, because this blog is under-read.

I have regrets.

Red Prawn in Space

I am not ashamed of them.

I will announce them, when the situation presents.

Regret is therapy. How? That you have to discover for yourself.

All’s Well; Perhaps

If all my posts were put in a word-cloud, (yes, that’s easily possible, but I am not doing it), perhaps, the word I use the most is, perhaps. The word is a tentative word. People think of it as a weakening or a disclaiming word, often, both. When I speak, I use maybe quite often. Same difference. Words like ‘perhaps’ are the refuge of people without conviction. They lack assertiveness, perhaps. So be it.

“You are being modest,” he said, with some irritation.

“I am being truthful,” I said, “I know what I know, and I know that there’s much that I don’t know. And I know this because I know people who know much more than what I know.”

We will never know everything, for sure. We will also never know everything in a specific discipline of our choice. There will always be something more. Of course, to prove me wrong, you can narrow down the discipline so much that, you’ll know everything in the discipline. And then, you’d be right.

Perhaps (the word) will never figure when we own the conviction of what we know. It’s when we cross the borders of our knowing that we need words like perhaps to help us navigate the unknown landscape of new knowledge. Slowly, we conquer these rich lands, by becoming familiar and then knowledgeable. Steadier now, we step deeper into the Fog of War. When we are faced with low visibility, we have to be tentative, and the vehicles we use to traverse this untravelled terrain, are made up of perhaps and maybe.

And it works well for all that is without. Within is a different mystery altogether.

The Real Spaces between Black and White

The Real Spaces between Black and White

We’d imagine, with all that we know, with all the certainty, the sedimentary maturity of the years, we’d be more expressive and less prone to misunderstandings, for example. Perhaps, words like perhaps and maybe are reminders of how much we know. And how much we don’t.

“In the colour band between black and white, the pure black and the pure white are just tiny specks. Our eyes deceive us,” he said, last Saturday, “and we see the range of grey towards white, and call it white, or we see the range of grey towards black, and call it black. It’s our sense of making sense of things; only because we understand white and black better than grey.” I thought, I’d counter him on that. He interrupted me, before I could start, “I want to explore that infinite band of grey, rather than seeking minuscule specks of white or black.”

In that grey colour band of life, I do not recall a moment of pure white, or pure black. Though, there have been moments that were almost white, almost black. I can, therefore say this:

All’s well; perhaps.

Being Sceptic

There are moments, when I feel I should be a sceptic.

A while ago, I was at the Therekol fort. It is at the border of the states of Maharashtra and Goa. At the place where the political separates us as Maharshtrian and Goanese, is defined, they had put up a board. This is Goa, this is Maharashtra, the board said. I was there with a few friends. And we were jumping across the border – once in Goa, once in Maharashtra. In one moment, we could be here, or there. It was fun.

2016-01-01 12.15.02

Does denying (or convincing) require more effort? Or does accepting? I have no idea. My default has been to accept, and then discover, if there’s truth in that which is said. If our natural tendency is to deny, then, perhaps, there’s not much motivation to discover.

This king, said the tourist guide, with what seemed like pride, had a sword made of 80 kgs. “80 kgs?” I almost shouted back. Maybe I yelped. Or shrieked. Either ways, a friend smiled at me, recognised my pain, patted my back, asked me to let it go. That would have been a wonderful time to be a sceptic. But I wasn’t. I took my friend’s advice, I let it go, and researched armoury of that period.

Hyperbole, for example, is a device used in poetry. It is a legitimate form of expression, like a simile or an alliteration. The degree of exaggeration will vary from poet to poet. When poets don’t use it, the connotation; = lies. Therein, we have to be careful. In poetry and other literary writing, it has a specific purpose. Every device has a purpose. Every device has a name. When you take the name, out of the situation, use it as a transferred epithet, to suit your needs, that artifice.

Most sceptics are cynics. They do not know the difference. Being sceptical is respectable. So they call themselves that. There are sceptics who are real sceptics. But, few. The others are just being fashionable and trendy. 

I’d like to be a sceptic. For the sheer convenience that it offers. To be able to transfer the burden of proof. You say this? I don’t agree, prove it. And then I can go back to saying the something to someone else. It’s not too difficult to harbour doubts if you are a believer (and I use this word, only as an opposite to a sceptic; no other connotation). Being a sceptic closes some doors and templates the narrative.

No, I don’t feel I should be a sceptic.

The Question of Space

We get used to things. Not like addiction, more like — a habit. Or perhaps there’s a thin line that separates the two. I choose the word habit, over addiction, only to discount the extreme, and the associated medical angle, associated with addiction.

We get used to. It becomes second nature. Soon, it becomes our nature. We have no way of knowing how and when it becomes a part of our nature. The times when our friends and family say, you’ve changed, that’s when, we know that we have absorbed a habit and made it a part of ourselves.

And then, when you are loading the dirty laundry on a slow Sunday, or polishing your shoes on a tired Tuesday, without warning, it’s no more a part of you. This habit, that was a constituent, is gone. Just like that. You gasp, when you experience this foreign cavity within, as if trying to quickly fill that emptiness with air, if nothing else. Very unlike the slow and invisible getting used to, the no-more is instant and blinding. Nothing really changes, however. You set the machine on Cotton with just enough fabric softener, or polish your shoes to a tan mirror finish. The day goes by, as any other day in your life would. Walking back, over patterns cast by the golden evening sun, to the washed clothes, with some city dust on the shiny leather footwear, you wonder if that cavity was born today, or you just discovered it, today.

We never will know. Because we get used to. We stop paying attention. Emotions, just like brushing teeth, or swimming, or cycling, seem to have a muscle memory of their own. So we don’t think about it. We just assume the same feeling is a constant companion. These, emotions, they are ours. And while they don’t have malice, they just leave, on a Saturday or a Thursday. (Actually, it could be any day!) And there is that space, which consumes our thought. Naturally, we want to fill it. Else, we will be different. And people will say, you’ve changed. Yet again.

But we should wait. Because that space means something more than just a space. 

It means, we have asked ourselves a question.