Deceptions of War

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“There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.”

Those who fight a battle never win it, those who win never participate in it. Can victory and defeat be any more subjective, rather misleading, than in the context of war?

I saw ‘Dunkirk’ this weekend, and since then have been thinking about wars. I also must admit that it is a very unsettling feeling. Although I haven’t seen many war movies, this wasn’t the first. Yet it had a snowball effect, just like the progression of this brilliant creation of Cristopher Nolan. It is inclusive, just like a war that devours all of its individual objectives; small wins, bigger losses, thousands of lives and their value. Individual terms of those who declare wars, are subject to destruction of countless dreams and purposes. Who wins and who looses, is just a matter of where you stand.

Dunkirk led to a mental chain reaction and I ended up watching two documentaries on Britain’s multiple invasions in Afghanistan in the 19th century. Why were these wars declared? Because of the power struggle in Central Asia between Britain and Russia. One of my favourite authors, Ayn Rand (hated by most Americans and Russians) says, “Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by producing.” Precisely the ideology of Britain at that time, like a vulture clasping India tight in it’s claws. Why India gave in, is another story of social weakness and political communalisation altogether!

I often hear people justifying war, sitting in their cosy surroundings. They say it paves way for a much needed cycle of destruction and re-construction. Some Indians wish that their government and military forces should declare a war on Pakistan. India and Pakistan have had 4 wars in the past, did it make anything better? Do we even understand war or the purpose behind it? We hate British because they ruled us, we hate our cricket team when it looses to Pakistan, we hate Donald Trump; but we love the idea of war. How convenient is it to hate facts, ignore weaknesses and love to blame and kill others?

Are the soldiers fighting a war or dying in a war the ones to declare that war in the first place? “It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking to you of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.”- Ayn Rand. War is a choice the governments make. Declaration of war is a secret of failure to make other choices. And what choice does a soldier fighting that war has if he survives? The freedom to either hate or forgive the decision of war, and live his second life in between.

Why did Britain go around colonising countries including India? Because  instead of producing its own resources, it made a CHOICE to invade and loot other countries. The thing about evil choices is that they are a conscious act; they have a pattern and they always have a substitute, a lesser evil one! Some people take pride in their power to make those wicked choices and may also justify the same, but its always the innocents who have to reconcile for the wrongs of others.

The common man, especially in a democracy, has some options too. Primarily, when they decide who they want to give such powers to; and secondly, to tolerate or change those powers. We also have a choice to distribute powers between what we see and hear, and what we comprehend and feel. We don’t have to submit our weakness to their selfishness, but our voice to their reason.The very concept of democracy fails if its people sit helpless and surrender to the evils of leaders they choose. All we need to do is remember, that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird!

 

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Lukka Chuppi

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Raat ke sannate mein akeli

Dhuen mein dhoondti kuch meri nazarein

Tasveeron ko sochti, idhar udhar niharti

Jaane kya paana tha unhe

Khuli khidki se aati hawa,un kagazon ko uda gayi

Likhe the jin mein mere kuch sapne

Kuch bachpan se panpe, kuch hamesha badalte

Damakti dhoop ki tarah aate, badalon ke peeche chup jate

Pattiyon ki sarsaraahat, thehre waqt ki wo aahat

Sote hue jaga ke chali gayi

Uthke ke dekha to wohi khamoshi, aur ek nayi subah

Guzri chandni ki thandak, aane wali raat ka ehsaas

Kshitij ki or udte, chehekte panchi

Le aayi ek nayi raat, naye sapnon ke naam.

One World

During the infancy of human existence, which was millions of years ago; there would not have been any boundaries. Areas would have diverged according to terrain and climate, but a lot of manmade classification would have been beyond one’s imagination.

Early men must have been more animalistic in a very positive sense of the term. Searching for food and shelter in the forest, exploring new areas like nomads, or protection against wild animals or climatic changes must have consumed most of their time. Relatively different activities must have consisted of inventing things like fire, making new weapons out of wood and stone, or having instinctive wars (for food, tribal issues or reproductive interests). Even more unusual would have been defining territories and categories, ‘dividing’ to be precise.

There was no formal education, career options, technology or modernization; as were there no discriminations on the basis of borders, castes, race, or religion. In Indian context, before the arrival of the Aryans in 1500 BC, existed communities of other origins like Negrito (resemblance in physical features with Africans), Mongoloids (Chinese features), Austroloid (features similar to the aboriginals of Australia) and the largest community in India, Dravidians (Mediterranean origin). Aryans started disregarding the local culture and started organising among themselves the division of castes as Brahmins, the priests; Rajayanas or Kshatriyas as warriors; Vaishyas, the farmers and craftsmen and the labor force as the Shudras. It’s noteworthy and also mentioned in the Rig Veda that the first ever classification of caste was neither on the basis of any community, skill nor region but ‘Varna’, meaning ‘skin colour’.

Today’s highly educated generation obviously knows the basic as well scientific reason behind the difference in skin colour of people, i.e., climate! People from hilly region tend to be fairer skinned and people from tropical regions are darker. Those living in plains would be on the moderate side, wheat-ish, and any regional contradictions could be because of genetic assortment. We need the day as much as we need the night. Heat has its own role to play as has cold in balancing the environmental dynamics. So why should we discriminate those unintentionally affected by the rationally diversified Mother Nature? We are constantly ignoring the message it is trying to convey, ‘that it is the co-existence of the dissimilar that strikes a balance and not the monopoly of the similar.’  Also, the way we need various skills for efficient functioning of an organization, we also need various calibre people for survival of a society, city, state, country or the whole wide world. The way a CEO cannot work without ground force, we as a society cannot do without labour, the ‘Shudras’, specially now when we are not at all self sufficient. Can we grow our own crop or make our own houses? How will even a king survive without farmers? Irrespective of the caste, skin colour, region or status, every living being needs food, the most basic element for survival. Should we suppress farmers merely because we coined a term ‘Vaishyas’ for them or should we look down upon people who clean our trash and label them as ‘untouchables’? Every group needs protection from outside dangers and that’s where the warriors, ‘Kshatriyas’ come into play. Education is an integral part of human evolution so the teachers, ‘Brahmins’ have a significant role too.

This is about ancient India, and caste division like Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian became much later a part of our history. Needless to mention, this was also an outcome of a particular community trying to be more powerful than others, and having smaller groups only makes the task easier. Different tribes always fight. If the tendency to ‘divide and rule’ is so much a part of our communal selves, then why do we Indians despise the British rule? In fact, they were intelligent and futuristic enough to bank upon our weakness and hence could enslave us for so long. Our ancestors harassed the sweepers for too many years, their generations will naturally try to get even with us now and they deserve our support.

There is too much hue and cry about social intolerance amongst Indians these days. We think what our irresponsible media wants us to think instead of it being the other way round. Negative is more attractive as well as popular, hence no Hindu wants to react when a cow that cannot provide milk is sold to a slaughter house but they want to kill Muslims who eat beef, irrespective of the fact that a lot of Hindus eat beef as well. Nobody bothered to stand by the bollywood actor Amir Khan when he had the courage to fight for those being rendered homeless as a result of Sardar Sarovar Dam construction during the Narmada Andolan or when he wanted to highlight the social evils of united India through his TV series Satyamev Jayate. We are always ready to start hating and banning, a sign that our negative self is more powerful than the positive one. If we hate Amir because his wife finds India unsafe, why don’t we also hate Indian women who find Delhi unsafe or Indian youth that feels India lacks career opportunities and settle abroad for the same reason?

Hatred and wars have never resolved issues. If we truly want to clean this mess, we have to understand divisions were merely disguised weapons for power and political interests. Religions were created by some humans for fellow humans and against a much larger number of other humans. It’s harmful for individual, social as well as national development. Rise beyond these barriers and think openly, construct a better society. The onus is on this generation to undo the injustice practised by our ancestors as well as imbibe a more acceptable and harmonious culture in our successors. Let the human within win over the hidden monster! Jai Hind !

 

The Last Journey

“It feels like a second life”. Thought me as I watched everyone around, wailing faces, sad faces, numb faces, faces that suggest a task has been completed and baby faces unable to understand what was happening around. But no face was looking back at me; instead, they were looking at my identical twin sleeping peacefully on the ground, facing the South direction.

It felt bizarre; I could witness everything without anyone else’s knowledge. Also a life, if it was so at all, that no one else could see, know or feel. The famous bollywood movie “Mr. India” had certainly made me very curious as a kid, but only then I realised how it feels to be “absently present”.

It took me sometime to realise what had actually happened. Thanks to my grandmother who I used to call “Amma”. I remember the night I saw her, heard her, following the morning she died. No, it was no illusion at the age of 14 years and I was not under any influence.

Whatever little knowledge or perceptions I have of our culture, traditions, beliefs and mythology, I owe it to her! It says that the spirit does not proceed to the heavenly abode immediately after death but stays on for 13 days. This belief has paved way to the tradition of bidding a final farewell to the deceased on the 13th day and is called ‘Tervi’.

My twin was made to wear new clothes and was placed on a frame by tying with a rope, the intersecting horizontal and vertical thin wooden logs.  A priest was chanting some shlokas for her peaceful departure while my immediate family was encircling her and offering flowers, followed by all the others gathered there. She was then carried to the banks of river Ganges on four shoulders and this procession mostly comprised of males, while the females stayed behind the boundary of my home.  When we reached the Ghat, my look alike body was placed on a much more elaborate pile of logs, which I thought was a waste of wood and I could not decide whether the people around were crying for her or for the trees. A man with a steel vessel full of Ganga-jal encircled me while sprinkling the holy water around the circumference of the pyre, while chanting still continued. Then the same man with a thick wooden stick hit her skull with one single blow, a ritual performed so that the deceased has no memory of the previous birth in his reincarnation. After the blow, the pile was set on fire and the men stood around, staring at the blaze. When flames receded and the body and woods mostly turned to ash, it was collected in a clay pot to be brought back home. On a tree nearby was hung some food in another clay pot and this was to be done twice everyday for thirteen days. This was a gesture of feeding the spirit which is believed to be around till the Tervi, i.e., me! The men then started marching back home, and on their way back 1 of them shaved off his skull. By the time they were back, the ladies had washed the entire place as well as taken shower themselves. One of them stood outside with a pot of water which was used by the men for washing their feet before entering the house and then all of them went for a bath. For thirteen days the food was not cooked at home, a tradition of not turning the ‘Chulha’ on. Also, the food sent by others or ordered from a caterer was void of onion and garlic, ingredients considered ‘Tamsic’ by North Indian Brahmins and had very less ghee and spices.

Throughout this period, the man who performed the last rights used to sleep on floor instead of the bed, have ‘sattvik’ food and have the last meal of the day, not much later than sunset. There was ‘akhand jyot’ where the body was initially kept at home and a diya lit twice everyday at the place of funeral. There were visitors almost every day and everybody sat on floor with my immediate family. Also, the worshipping ceremony, which used to happen twice everyday otherwise, had also taken a backseat for these thirteen days. Since the demised soul is perceived to be around and watchful till Tervi, it is advised by the elderly to not mourn the death as it may hurt the soul to see her near and dear ones cry because of her.

On the 10th day, known as ‘Nahaan’, there was a cleaning spree in the entire house and all the upholstery was changed. It was called, the ‘Shuddhi’ day.

And then came my last day. My family had bought an item of everything a normal person uses, from a pair of clothes, towel, socks, shoes, toiletries, umbrella, torch, stationary, some vessels, bedding etc to some food articles; to be given to a female priest who was considered my representative that day. A Pooja was performed and a caterer was hired to cook an authentic Uttar Pradesh meal consisting Poori, Kachori, Pumpkin vegetable, a gravy preparation, curd, milk based dessert etc in large quantity and everybody known was invited for it after 13 Brahmins exclusive of my representative were fed with it. This ritual is known as ‘Brahmin Bhoj’. After the Brahmin Bhoj, all the things of my use were decorated on a single bed with my representative sitting pretty on it and blessing my family after they took a round of the bed n touched her feet. All those things were offered to her and my family bid her a final goodbye. The ashes were submerged in the Ganges and we parted ways forever!

The Maiden and the Monster

She is an epitome of purity and grace,

Enchanting is her beauty and the smile on her face.

Believes to be be protected only during a certain age,

But is unfamiliar to the masculine menace in every phase.

To satiate his lust, he throws an ugly dice,

With cruelty in his mind and dirt in those eyes,

Hands that reach to uncover her veil,

Insensitive to her cries and tormenting pain.

Insanity that is felt in his every blow,

Slaughters her existence like a poison that’s slow.

Her terrified mind and the suicidal heart,

Praying for an escape from an end so dark.

Struggling for self till the vigor permits,

Defeated…considers herself a social misfit.

For an evil pleasure the cannibalistic core,

Murders her innocence and stains her soul.

Autobiography of a Female Foetus

In an unknown form, I am the destination of a journey called love,
The day my seeds were sown, i was tender and delicate like a dove.
My Creator was my Preserver and the Nurturer, in human form,
An epitome of divinity, both caring and warm.
She thought and dreamt about me for so many days,
I extracted all my essentials from her in many ways.
I was proud to carry forward the extension of my family,
My Father’s prayers were being answered and thus he indulged in charity.
With the passage of few months, I started gaining shape and size,
My Mother became more cautious and I was frequently under the doctor’s ultrasonic eyes.
One day, out of curiosity, my Granny threw ‘The Question’,
My parents couldn’t help but ignore the apprehension.
The lady doctor was requested and also promised to be rewarded,
While she was checking my nervous Mother and my heart-beat was being recorded.
My parents were anxious and the doctor looked thoughtful,
She asked, ‘What if the result is unfavourable, will you be merciful?”
My parents fell short of words and it was Granny who started to blabber,
In whose arms I had visualised myself being adored and cradled.
The doctor was convinced there was no escape from the crime,
But considering the reward in return, she didn’t seem to mind.
The test took place and the verdict was out,
There was a scary silence in the room and Granny gave a frown.
My Mother was numb, gathering courage to face the truth,
My Father looked helpless in front of her mother’s ruth.
Both my parents exchanged a look of despair and pain,
Tears rolled down my Mother’s cheeks, but their influence in vain.
The couple embraced each other and tried to be strong.
They thought, “Bringing her to life and still doing injustice will also be wrong.”
My death sentence didn’t take me aback yet my eyes watered,
I was like a goat who knows she is going to be slaughtered.
My Granny interrupted and forced my guardian to my gallows,
Where, on the contrary, I could have been welcomed and hallowed.
The door was shut and outside stood my Father wondering in disgust,
“Is it really humane for two women and mothers, on the law of nature, to have such distrust?”
The prick of unconsciousness was more like a slow poison,
It wasn’t the needle’s pain but the loss that made my Mother’s eyes moisten.
My assassination was done, the doctor acted innocent like a nun,
Mother laid lifeless, and Father sat besides, holding her hand and looked stunned.
I was pushed to Death even before I could see Life,
The complices being a doctor, a man, his mother and his wife.
In hopes of ‘the real successor’, i was considered an obstruction,
Which led the same source of my Creation to be my very source of Destruction.

If I were…

If I were a Painter, I would paint you and me sitting at the seashore, looking at the sunset and the sea so vast, like the love we share.

If I were a Musician, I would compose all those notes, the melodies of which can sing of our eternal togetherness.

If I were a Dancer, I would choreograph our performance on the stage of life in a way that we take every step together and move ahead, hand in hand.

If I were a Gardener, I would sow the seeds of your life along with the flowers of joy and throw away all the thorns.

If I were an Actor, I would play your part in the ideal life i desire for you and show you how flawless i want everything to be, with co-actors being the people you love and moments you wish to see.

If I were a sportsman, I would make sure that I win every match for you in the series of your life and keep you miles away from any defeat.

If I were a Pilot, I would fly you to the Moon where there are only you and me, and the dreams we have nurtured together.

If I were an Architect, I would design your velvet home around the peaks of love, valleys of joy, ocean of luck and pastures of your wishes.

If  I were a Magician, I would make you close your eyes, so that when you open them, all your worries vanish and you only have reasons around to make you smile.

If I were a Poet, I would rhyme your smile, your life and your very presence in a way that every word becomes your source of glory, every line my expression of love and every full stop, a new beginning.

To The Spirit of Rishikesh !

Lush green mountains and the Ganges so blue,
Saffron clad men n the colourful you.
Misty winters n pastal Spring,
Summers are hot but plenty of rains they bring.

Rafting and camping are so much fun,
Visiting temples can give you a run.
Tourists of all races ain’t no fool,
Shacks n cafes are a combi so cool.

Kawads in July, make you wanna cry,
But the traffic, the horns, are worth a try.
Yoga and meditation are here at their best,
From ‘The Beatles’ to ‘Rajnikant’, all have here taken rest.

Crowd during peak season can top the diversity test,
Beauty, peace, vibrance and sanctity,
Together sit pretty in this nest.

For splashing around the Ganges, you don’t need shoes and socks,
Lets cheer, dance and sing, ‘Rishikesh Rocks, Rishikesh Rocks !’