Chapter 24

December 8, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, Uncategorized, World + People + Events | 6 Comments
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I am not much of a philosopher. The only philosophical question that has occurred to me is:

‘What is the point?’

No doubt, you will gasp at the profundity and utter sagacity of this insight. I understand. As deep and thoughtful as this question is (Socrates and Plato would agree), I feel rather concerned that humans do not ask it often enough. Especially the folks at the Parliament, the judiciary, and every law-making body of the world. Those grimy, balding. terribly self-important people with a preference for stale banana milkshakes and an ability to think some of the most pointless rules in existence. Lawmakers, some would call them. A bunch of doddery old fools, is the term I prefer.

Of the many strange and mysterious things and unexplained phenomena that abound in our world, including the  possession of so-called writing skills by Pete Wentz and the re-election of George W Bush in ’04, perhaps no other phenomenon is as mysterious or unexplained as the Law. Indeed, such is the complexity and inscrutability of this dreaded school of thought, that concepts such as the quantum theory pale in comparison.

Now, I’m one of those people who love complexity as such, but love simplicity more. But one thing that irritates me more than anything else is the ridiculous precision, the exaggerated, long winding descriptions, perfectly normal terms hacked to tiniest details, and the tendency to define every term that contains more than one syllable.

I mean, consider this:

The Income Tax Act, 2007

993
An individual ( “A”) is connected with another individual ( “B”) if-
(a) A is B’s spouse or civil partner,
(b) A is a relative of B,
(c) A is the spouse or civil partner of a relative of B,
(d) A is a relative of B’s spouse or civil partner, or
(e) A is the spouse or civil partner of a relative of B’s spouse or civil partner.

Or this gem:

(1) For the purposes of this section a company is a petroleum company if-
(a) its activities include any relevant activities; or
(b) it is associated with a company whose activities include any relevant activities and its own activities include the ownership, operation or management of ships or pipelines (as defined in section 65 of the [1962 c. 58.] Pipelines Act 1962) used for transporting or conveying petroleum or petroleum products.

Like, HELLO! A petroleum company is considered a friggin’ petroleum company when it deals in the damned petrol!

I would give more such examples. but I do not want you, my dear reader, to go into a deep coma.

The basic purpose of law is to safeguard our rights as an individual and make life safer and easier. But modern law does precisely the opposite. Statements and declarations abound on paper. Action is mistaken for  the passing of bills. I wonder if they would come up with an official declaration on that too.

(We’re the folks who pass rules/Never mind that we are a bunch of fools/If you should be stabbed or get your jaw broken/There’s nothing more we can do than pass a token/We’re afraid, that’s the law/We won’t do anything about a broken jaw/’Practical’ is a term for us that isn’t supposed to be/It’s not in the book, you see/Yeah yeah yeah)

Alas, I know I am pursuing a lost cause. I may be the only person on the planet to criticise the Law (the Law is the law, after all) but I do this purely out of concern for my poor little brain, which hurts every time I come across  legal mumble-jumble. It’s been like this for centuries, of course, and no one’s complaining but me. Well, next time I’ll make sure I stay well out of a hundred mile radius of a legal document.

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Two Suns in the Sunset

September 16, 2008 at 5:03 pm | Posted in Musing + Mulling, Randomosities + Rubbish | 1 Comment
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Crowded spaces. Bright lights. Sounds.
Hollowness. Filled to the brim.

The skies bend over and the ground falls away. It’s not that the pain isn’t there. Just that it doesn’t sting anymore.

Fairy tales aren’t meant to be real. It is cruel to compare them with reality.
Reality isn’t always kind.

‘No, I’m fine.’ Why do you ask? You don’t want the answer any more than I want to give it.

I could walk away. But what are you running from?

Tears aren’t ugly. Denial is.

Solitude is company enough.

I don’t ask for much. Stories I can wander in. A song I can listen and fall asleep to.

A golden ocean of grass in the sun. A blue river of dreams. A green canvas of hope. And an endless, selfless beautiful sky, sky of starry nights, sky of warm clouds, sky of splashes of colours, sky of sapphires and rubies.

Dreams can sometimes be all that you have. And yet if you have nothing else but them, you have the biggest wealth of all.

How do you decide what you want?

Sometimes, the best thing you can do to erase the pain, escape the regrets, forget the moment – is to sing.

Why do the stars shine?
Why do I hold back?
Do the answers always lie beyond reach
Or do you create them yourself?

A Saucerful of Secrets

August 17, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Posted in Me + Myself + I | 12 Comments
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I remember when I first started keeping diaries, I was thrilled by the feeling that every thought in my head – every vague idea, every bizarre wish, every whim – could be written down on paper. Since I am completely reserved and utterly private, it was all new to me. Nobody, right since childhood could ever tell what I was thinking any given moment. I was too good at being secretive.

When I started writing down my thoughts in my diary, I was terrified that somebody else would find it and read through it, and discover all about me. And I didn’t want that. My mind was my own property – and sharing it with somebody else seemed a terrifying prospect to me.

It was this insecurity that magnified my sense of isolation and made me very guarded with secrets. I didn’t have a sense of belonging – to anyone or anything. I knew I couldn’t put trust in others, because I had learned that lesson early enough (and the hard way) in life – if I told them, they would either laugh at me, or reject me. So I withheld. But others have always trusted me with their secrets, so perhaps it is quite selfish of me to not trust them in return.

That is why I guess, nobody really knows me. Nobody. There’s a certain amusement and a sense of mild annoyance I get from listening to someone talking about me. They can’t figure me out.

Secrets possess power and terror. And yet I would like to throw them all away, to free myself from their clutch, so that I’ll be left with nothing to hide.

Because there is something very weighty attached to consciousness. If you’re the kind of individual that knows yourself really well, that consciousness – that knowledge, of yourself, is a terrible burden. Because in your case, you can watch the actions and emotions and feelings and doings not only of yourself but also that of others – with a calculating and accurate eye. You observe and you understand. And worse still, it doesn’t leave you out cold. It affects you more deeply than others.

I suppose I shall never have the comfort of having to listen to another person reading me. I don’t know if I am just being selfish. But the feeling that there is someone out there in the world apart from yourself – that knows you inside out, that can read you like an open book, that really gets you – it’s an enormously precious comfort…unlike anything else.

A Letter to Time

July 26, 2008 at 7:13 pm | Posted in Life as I See It, Musing + Mulling | 5 Comments
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Dear Time,

You are a funny thing.

Except that you have a twisted, sick sense of humour. Yes, you do. It really isn’t funny how you can be more indecisive over your speed than George Bush over his multiple-question choices when confronted with an elementary quiz (even with all the options being exactly the same).

Why, for instance, do you have to travel at painfully slow speeds during every Botany lecture? Or, for that matter, when ODT takes up the mic and resolves to display his shameful singing skills? Or during those ridiculous traffic-jams? And you shamelessly zoom by whenever I happen to be sleeping, or reading, or in a concert or in the library or in an interesting lecture or sipping coffee while thinking about nothing in particular or…well you know the list.

You know how many times I’ve cursed you and begged you but you blow all the whining and cursing with one ‘Pooof!’ of your breath, throw back your head and laugh, saying ‘Relativity!’ Well, relativity all right. I expect Einstein spared you the shame of asking you how long you took to choose your pizza topping.

Anyway, I’m a bit alarmed and disturbed by you. Well, you know, us humans are always a bit alarmed and disturbed when it comes to you. You knocked at my door on the fourteenth of this month and pah! now I’m seventeen. Thanks to you, I’m hit by dumb questions from dumb people such as ‘Are you grown up yet?’ from all sides. I mean, come to think of it, there would be no such questions if it weren’t for you.

‘Are. You. Grown. Up. Yet?’
they ask from all sides, in a sneering, idiotic fashion that brings back – I don’t know why – memories of a particularly sinister chorus of an advertising jingle I’d heard as a kid. And then, I can do nothing but tell them to shut up. Growing up was never (and isn’t ever going to be) on my to-do-list, I tell them airily.

To-do-lists. That brings back memories too. Remember when I was a silly little girl of eleven, I’d make stupid, gigantic to-do-lists that included every wee thing, including even things such as brushing my teeth at night? It sounds so strange now. I never follow a To-Do-List (I don’t remember checking that little box in the ‘done’ column in ages) now…though that maybe, er, due to my failure to follow them.

But really, that’s the problem with the world today. For most people, life has become an endless chain of To-Do’s. Do this, do that. And you go on running, adding more and more items to your To-Do-List at every stop, but never once pausing to stay and care to look.

So…back to you. I’ve already whined about you being oh-so-unfair. But what are you, really, Time?
Do you even exist? Are you just an illusion? When did you begin? How will you end? Don’t you ever get tired of…going on, all the time? Don’t you ever rest?

Yes, I pestered you with these questions back as a six year old and I pester you with them now. They’re maddening questions, you know. You don’t how much humans fuss over them, and over you. We owe life to you, and yet we don’t understand you at all. You’re never absolute. Most of the humans are terrified of you. You’re the biggest bully we’ve ever known.

It’s easy to say you’re cruel. That you are merciless and intimidating. But don’t feel bad. It’s because of you that we have such a thing as memories – belongings that we gather and carefully preserve above everything else. It’s because of you that we can have music. That we have life itself is due to you. OK, that’s enough praise to last for a lifetime.

And what exactly is a lifetime? And what exactly is a moment?
Oh, I can hear you sighing now and wishing I’d stop with all these questions already. Well, all right, I’ll stop. But before I do so, let me ask you something. See, seventeen years isn’t really a long time when you’re looking back at them – no period of time is. Thing is, you’ve always been there, always hovering in the background, leveling every thing. But at some point of my life, I hope you’ll finally relent. I know that one day, even if for one fleeting moment, you’ll be still. And that moment will have been a lifetime.

Until then,
keep ticking.

On the Playground

July 8, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Verses + Vignettes, World + People + Events | 6 Comments
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The children are scattered all over the playground.

Two girls with fat ponytails sit on the steps. Their plastic dolls don’t blink or frown. They only smile. With their teeth showing. And when one of the girls yanks out a strand of hair, the doll doesn’t wince or protest. She just keeps on smiling.
The girls keep their play to themselves. They recite their doll’s dialogues in hushed voices. They have the dolls cry softly. Laugh delicately. Sing inaudibly.

Because the girls want to keep their World to themselves. They are careful not to let anybody else be a part of it. They don’t want them to shatter it, their world of silent shouts and whispered weddings.

The dolls don’t mind, because they don’t have one to do so.

Over there, by the swing, the children sway to and fro. They lurch forwards only to be instantly pulled backwards again. Whoosh. They rise higher and higher, chests heaving with each lurch, but just as they put out their fingers to reach out and touch the invisible wall, they are summoned backwards again. As though the Swing is determined to let them go only so far. The breeze cuts through their hair; or do the children cut through the breeze?

A queue of children await their turn on the swing, getting more impatient with each lurch.
The Swing knows.

A few girls huddle on a grassy patch, their self-willed skipping ropes resolutely refusing to be perfectly Skipped.

‘England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Inside, outside, inside, on!’

But the ropes don’t obey. They get caught up in the feet every time.
One, two, three, four. The Ropes refuse.

On the seesaw two kids play.
Up.
Down.

Up and Down are like two siblings who never seem to agree. They always fight and never seem to last long, because Up becomes Down and Down becomes Up.

The voices of the children drift over the lazy air.

‘Queenie, Queenie, who’s got the ball?
Are they short, or are they tall?’

The Queenie sees with her ears.

’Are they hairy, or are they bald?
You don’t know because you don’t have the ball!’

She turns around. And listens with her eyes.

The children play.

They don’t know that the swing that controls them is only another form of the society that they will live in as adults.
They don’t know that their precious stories will inevitably be splintered, modified, and crushed someday.
They don’t know that the ropes that rebel are nothing compared to those they will come to know when they grow older – the superficial, the ignorant, the narrow-minded tunnel visioned ropes of human beings.
And the seesaws are only a feeble reflection of the world they live in, riddled with inequalities and injustices, that crashes around them everyday.

They just play.

A boy with curly locks squashes ants on the porch.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed.
A girl fumbles with a yo-yo.
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
The class bully intimidates the kids on the merry-go-round.
Chip chop, the old man is dead.

When Life Hits You On the Head With a Brick

May 28, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Life as I See It | Leave a comment
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Finally, after a month and half of suspense, trepidation and much-felt regret, it’s all behind me.

I am not in worry anymore.
I am not in debt (money-wise or otherwise) anymore.
I am not in love anymore (if it was love in the first place).

I am free.

God knows I’ve had enough to deal with in the past few months. But now it’s all over and done with and I’ve promised myself not to whine over things for a while.

I’ve been wondering why it is that when everything seems to be going on smoothly in life, half a dozen problems and troubles come rolling down like boulders, and you go blank in the face of it. And then, as time passes, those boulders pass away too, and you emerge, sometimes scathed, sometimes not; but you emerge out of it anyway.

One thing I’ve learnt is that, when these problems do come our way, we feel their terror as they approach us, getting nearer and nearer all the time; but when they finally do arrive, a strange kind of feeling – I don’t know what it is, courage or  something else –  takes charge and it only begins to seem as a matter of time.

Sometimes life hits you on the head with a brick. Some of us manage to stay cool in its face and come up with an elegant solution, while some of us (like me) panic, get jumpy over little things, get knocked down, stumble, fall, get back up again, and staggering, tottering, wobbling, faltering end up fumbling our way through.

If My World Should Collapse Around Me Tomorrow

April 7, 2008 at 6:20 pm | Posted in Life as I See It | 4 Comments
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One moment, life is all joy and bliss, and the next, adversity and fear. The pleasure, the contentment, the solace. All reduced to dust.

I await and dread my future equally. Perhaps it’s only the next day, the next week. month or year that really frightens me, fills me with a nameless trepidation, because ten years on, twenty years on, it all seems so distant.

Always living in apprehension, living in worries, living in lies, is living while killing yourself inside. And yet, you have to do it. Everyone would like a life free of all care, and yet, the world doesn’t let you have it.

I’m safe today. I’m happy. I know it. But that happiness is marred by the knowledge of what I have in store for me. My present is forever stained by my past, and eternally haunted by my future. I’m caught, always weaving back and forth, sometimes resorting to tears, sometimes trying to laugh it off, and always carrying that sense of burden with me, within me.

If my world collapses around me tomorrow, and I lose everything…what would I be left with? If I should lose my possessions, my comfort, my freedom, what would I have? Would I have a future at all?

But would it be fair for me to say that I have nothing, no future? Am I only dreading it too much, because I’m scared of abandoning the refuge of present? The thing that I dread most will surely come, but it will also come to pass. That’s easy for me to say that at this moment, to resort to the only possible defence I have – hope. But what about when it finally arrives? What would I be like at that time?

I’m thoroughly confused. I hate it, I dread it with all my being and yet a part of me wants to see it come and go. Why do I feel that? I think it’s vertigo, probably. I’m not sure what I want, except that I cannot take any more worry and apprehension. If a thing makes me happy today, but would cause me pain tomorrow, let me have it. If I have to pay with tears for a laugh for today, let me have it.

Sometimes I have the strange feeling that I would like the earth to open up and swallow me whole, and no more be. That I would like to abandon everything, every dream, every joy, every pleasure – and the funny thing is, it’s not suicidal. It’s happy, almost. It’s strange. It’s an urge of relinquishing everything, whether good or bad.

It would be easy for me to continue to hope, continue to delude myself, into a sense of security. It would be equally easy for me to despair. Whatever way I choose, it’s going to happen. Whatever happens, tomorrow will come. I live, for better or worse.

‘You Think Too Much’

January 10, 2008 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Life as I See It, Me + Myself + I | 4 Comments
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That’s what my biology professor told me when I sought to ask her about the possibilities of ‘thought-waves’ or ‘thought-energy’ in relation to the clinical death of the brain.

I couldn’t help asking what she meant by her stupid remark. She was of the opinion that I was concerning myself with matters that were ‘far too advanced than what I ought to be learning at this age.’ Excuse me? It’s never too early or too late to learn or explore something new. I could have told her this, but what’s the point, I thought, in arguing with a person who sees it fit to equate knowledge with age?

Apart from the fact that she displayed her close-mindedness (despite of being a teacher) to discuss a new idea, I think that’s a really vicious thing to say to any student. What is wrong with teachers today? They’re dissuading us from veering off course from what’s written in the textbooks. Does anyone honestly believe that all the knowedge on a particular subject can be contained within the covers of a textbook?

Which brings me to the question, why do so many people – sadly, teachers included – disapprove questioning the conventional, the ordianry, the tested or speculating on the unproven and the unknown? I am so utterly disappointed that everywhere it seems as if people have forgotten to be inquisitive. Everyone takes things for granted. Why? Opinions are almost formed, packaged, and fed into the society – and many people seem to think that’s good enough for them. And why do so many students face opposition or general disapproval when taking out the unconventional route? Or for that matter, anyone who ever goes with a unconventional method – be it in business, science or even relationships?

Punishment isn’t the worst aspect of a teacher’s behaviour, is it? I’d say the worst thing that a teacher can do is to suppress a child’s curiosity. Once you lose sight of that quality, you’ve lost sight on the essence of all true art, of all true science, of life itself. A teacher needs to see things from a child’s perspective. If you go around propagating the usual ways of doing things what you’re doing is almost killing originality – and merely causing innumerable carbon copies of the same thing disguised in innumerable forms.

We’ve all heard stories of independent, unconventional, original thinkers encoutering criticism and ridicule all too often before. Who hasn’t heard of the exploits of Einstein or Edison in school? But I think it’s about time we learned practise tolerance on the difference of opinions or viewpoints.

Whoever said that you have to confine yourself to what society thinks is ‘thinkable or ‘unthinkable’ or even to what it considers is thinking ‘too much or ‘too little’? Which brings back to me a quote I read somewhere:

If we do what we’ve always done. we’ll get what we’ve always got.

Dreams or Goals?

January 7, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Life as I See It | 5 Comments
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What exactly is the difference between dreams and goals? And is one really one better than the other?Undoubtedly, goals make you put things in perspective. Goal-setting usually increases the chances of your achieving your objective. Goal setting requires you to limit yourself to your strengths and try your potential. You’ve got to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses if you want to have goals.

But dreams? They recognise no strengths and weaknesses. A dream always has a sense of profound hope attached with it. In the case of goals, they too have this attribute – but here it’s hope present in a forced sense. Not really hope, but a strained, put on feeling that has an uneasy edge to it. What if you don’t make it? What if you fail? It’s not the hope of winning, then, that pushes you forward towards pursuing your goal but the fear of failure disguised in the form of hope.

But then the question is, are you really able to acieve anything with dreams? Do they only remain in your head, or leap beyond that and assume the form of action and realisation too? I think that depends not on the dream, but the person themself. It’s the person that will doubt their dreams and will not pluck up the courage to chase after them. Every one can imagine the end, but very few are able to make a beginning in actuality. It’s true that people with dreams know no impossibilty – the very fact that they have dreams at all proves this. But it’s like deciding to climb up a mountain and getting scared by it before the climb has even begun. Why doubt your dreams without even making a try first? Dreams are there to be chased and realised.

If dreams really weren’t at all possible to accomplish, we wouldn’t have had aeroplanes or robots or surgery today. Each one of them started out as a dream. Not a goal. Wilbur and Orville Wright didn’t wake up one fine morning and say, ‘Well, I plan to make a machine that can make humans fly in the air within the next few months.’ They didn’t care if they failed. The best experts had ruled out the possibility of an aerosplane saying that it was thoroughly impractical to even concieve of such an idea. But that dream came true, didn’t it? What if it was a goal – they’d have tried it just the same, but after ten, fifteen, twenty tries given up; because apparently it seemed ‘impractical’.

So a dream is always possible, isn’t it? It’s upto us to take the initiative and make our dreams see the light of the day. So I’ve also come to realise that:

A goal is a dream with limits put on it.

Goals have limits, dreams are limitless.

Goals are short-term. Dreams are full-time.

The impossible becomes the possible, when it becomes a dream.

A Healthy Dose of Insanity

January 5, 2008 at 9:48 am | Posted in Life as I See It, Musing + Mulling | 9 Comments
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Insanity is my only means of relaxation.

I guess that applies for all of us. Even the most grim-faced, humourless creatures. That occasional quirky behaviour, the unpredictability or the feeling of unserious-ness that goes with it are some of the pills that all human beings ought to have from time to time.

But I wonder why so many people are unwilling to commit themselves to an occasional lapse of reason. Are they unaware that there’s a part of them that secretly yearns to get away from the mundane, to rid itself of all worry, to drop the concern and just be? Are they reluctant to expose that side of them to the world? Afraid, perhaps, of what the mind will do if set free?

Isn’t that what insanity is? Setting yourself free.

You can say that human beings are born free, but all of their life, whatever they may be bound by – wealth, responsibility or time – most of all a person is bound inwardly by themself. We imprison ourselves and don’t even know it. To be insane is to break the shackles and cut all the chains. The chains of reason. Of the tedious drudgery. Of the realm of impossibility.

To come on a more concrete plane, let me first define what insanity is. (And no, I’m not talking about the medical aspect of it.) Insanity, madness, lunacy – whatever you may call it – is an aspect of human behaviour that, in itself, is a counter-image of a person – and a very useful one at that. Why do I call it a counter-image? Well, because in this particular type of behaviour you don’t confine yourself to the facade that you may project to the world, or to even yourself. You become what you are not that you purport to be but that which you are, unknown to yourself. (Maybe that’s a bit confusing, but it does make sense.) Every person has dozens of ‘selfs’ in their natures. Dozens of different images, a whole bunch of different personas. All unified under the all-powerful ‘I’. This isn’t hypothetical rubbish, but science, albiet a very confusing one. Beneath the sense of identity that every person possesses are other sides of themselves that they aren’t aware of. Insanity is unearthing these sides.

Now you may argue it isn’t really possible, or rational, for a person to not know their own self. Well, guess what, it completely is. Schiller got it right when he said ‘When the wine goes in, strange things come out.’ We all know the effects that alcohol or drugs induce in a person that lead them to behaviour or ability they didn’t think themselves capable of – but there it is, a merely external, artificially induced, unnatural phase. Insanity is innate, instinctive…a natural drug, I’d say.

I know it’s boring to be predicable, conventional, and typical all the time. It is necessary to confirm yourself to the standards for society’s sake (we aren’t a bunch of mad apes on the lose, after all) but it is vital to be occasionally insane for the sake of your own. What’s the fun in leading an almost-programmed life anyway, with forlorn expressions and grim viewpoints?

To quote Jean Dubuffet: ‘For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.’ Definitely. And it’s also a kind of a defence mechanism that allows you to push back your anxiety and angst – and live as though you haven’t a care in the world. It’s good to be insane once in a while.

You aren’t doing it for anybody else; you’re doing it for yourself.

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