December 25, 2011

24 going on 16

This day, in 1987, about 2.30 am, I was born in a Dehradun hospital. When my father went home after my birth, my grandmother asked, "Kya hua?" (meaning: "Is it a boy or a girl?") My father replied, "Hemant hua." I was born in Hemant ritu, the coldest, err... the chilliest, season. And thus the name.

After the sun rose, my sister—who was then one-and-a-half year old—came to the hospital to see me. The hospital-wali sister asked my sister: "Bhaiyya kaisa laga?" And my sister replied with "Pintu". That was the name of the beloved dog we had then. The nurse asked my sister again if she liked her brother, to which she said "****". My father found it cute and **** became my nickname, which I banned before I became a teen. Within 12 hours of my arrival on the planet, I had got two names.

Ummm... This blogpost is likely to be disjointed because I'm in a state of shock. You'd be shocked if the entire Australian  team gets dismissed for 24 runs. Isn't it? I'm shocked 'cuz I turn 24 today. Twenty-four years... When did all this happen? I feel I'm 16, forever a schoolboy. I'm the same, my Utopian beliefs and ideals intact. Still don't smoke, don't drink, don't watch porn. Uh oh! Topic change.

Ok, so what am I gonna do today? The best thing: gonna switch off my mobile phone, show up for work and pray for an 'uneventful' birthday. People celebrate their birthdays, I observe mine. 25/12 is my 9/11 and 26/11. Well, last year, I did go out with my two school friends, did bird-watching on Brigade Road, ate cheez-burst pizza and watched Tees Maar Khan (they liked just Sheela Ki Jawani, I loved the whole film). Yeah, I had fun, but that was just as fun as any other day with friends. Nothing special. I've heard people say how they feel oh-so-special on their birthdays. It must feel really special to feel special... Some day.

Anyway, I hate being at either end of "happy birthday". What? I don't even remember being born. Everybody was born. What's the distinction in being born? Why greet me for that? If you congratulate me for a good headline or a story well edited, that makes sense. But "Happy birthday! Hehehe... Thank you!" I don't get it. I  explained this to a  friend a couple of years ago, since then she doesn't call me on birthdays; and then calls a few days after December 25 to explain why she did not call. Hahahaha...

Another reason I hate birthdays is unmet expectations. When I was a nanha-munna bachcha and used to have birthday party for kids of my street, it was so disappointing to see everyone bring sets of sketchpens as gift. Or an envelope saying "Best wishes" with Rs 21 in it. So unimaginative. I already had sketchpens and money was no use to me then. I stopped having birthday party after class 2.

Talking of gifts, I don't remember how old I was when this happened, but I must not have been more than eight or nine years old. I woke up on the morning of December 25 to see a packet of Melody toffees next to my pillow. I was superhappy; Santa brought it for me. I proclaimed this to my neighbour bhaiyya. Matter of factly, he said my parents had kept it. I was not convinced. By now, I've wised up and know Santa isn't there. I still believe in angels, though.

Talking of Santa, it reminds me how my birthday used to start when I was a kid. A Christian family used to live opposite our house and when the clock used to strike 12, a jeep used to come to their house, with merrymakers, Santa Claus and cake. Every year, I used to peep from my window to see all that. It's been so many years, I've been wanting to go to a church on Christmas, to see what all happens. Want to see Christmas tree, wanna hear Chrishmas carols. Next year, maybe. 

As for now, I hope the Reebok showrooms still have that wonderful denim jacket on discount. That'd be my birthday gift to me. No, actually it's just an excuse to buy that jacket. Still in doubt, should I buy it or not?

P.S. Santa, I haven't given up on you.

December 11, 2011

God turns "impossible" into "i m possible"

There are times we find ourselves stuck. There seems to be no way out; no solution in sight. The problem starts looking more like a fact, something that has to be put up with instead of something that can be solved. Often, there, indeed, is no solution. We give up, abandon hope.

But you know what? When we say "There, indeed, is no solution", it actually means that our limited mind, which is used and trained to be logical and practical, cannot come up with a solution. To say, as a matter of fact, there is no solution is incorrect. Yes, there may not be a way out. But where there is no way, a way will be made. Only if you seek the services of the ultimate problem-solver. God.

Come to think of it. If, for you to live in, God could create the universe—countless galaxies, stars and planets—can he not create a solution to your problem? Do you think any problem is too big for Him? Do you think there's anything bigger than God, the infinite?

The saree that never ended, Thank God

Who came to Draupadi's rescue when Duryodhan was trying to disrobe her? Such a tragedy it was! The daughter of the King of Panchaal, her modesty at stake in the full view of the Kauravas' courtiers even as her husbands could do nothing but watch helplessly. She clutched on to her saree with her hands. Her tormentor's hands were stronger. She held on to her garment with her teeth. Nothing helped. All the human effort on her part went in vain. Then she prayed for help to Lord Krishna, who considered her as a sister. And you know what happened next.

Or, haven't you heard about Meera, Lord Krishna's ardent devotee? She was given a bowl of poison. She consumed it, but by grace of the almighty, the poison turned harmless. Laws of our world say this is impossible. But who created this world and the laws? You think it's a big deal for Him to tweak a rule or make an exception for his children? 

He couldn't die. 
Oops... God killed him
Surely, you must have heard the story of Hiranyakashipu, the raakshas who practiced severe austerities to earn  a boon from Lord Brahma. Pleased by Hiranyakashipu's dedication and discipline, one day Lord Brahma appeared in front of him, to grant him a boon. Hiranyakashipu asked the Lord to make him immortal. This being against the rule of the nature, Lord Brahma told him to ask for something else. And Hiranyakashipu said:
Grant me that I not die:
- by any human being, animal or weapon
- at the hands of any entity, living or non-living
- at the hands of any demigod or demon
- of old age or disease
- within any residence or outside any residence
- during the daytime or night
- neither on the ground nor on the sky.

Knowing full well that his death is practically impossible he started attack on the devatas. Yes, the devatas too knew he cannot be killed, 
which logically makes him invincible. But had they concluded thus and accepted this 'fact', they would have lost the battle against him, the problem. What did they do? They went to Lord Vishnu, asking him to end their woes. And what did Lord Vishnu do? He killed Hiranyakashipu. But how? He had such a boon that made it impossible for him to die, right? Wrong. Nothing is impossible for God.

His Narasimha incarnation killed Hiranyakashipu while maintaining all the conditions of the boon Lord Brahma had granted to the demon. "
He came upon Hiranyakashipu at twilight (when it was neither day nor night) on the threshold of a courtyard (neither indoors nor out), and put the demon on his thighs (neither earth nor space). Using his sharp fingernails (neither animate nor inanimate) as weapons, he disemboweled and killed the demon." (Quoted text from Wikipedia)

Mythology is replete with such incidents where practically and logically impossible things happened when The Supreme One intervened. God is neither practical nor logical; he is just loving. 
Where there is no solution, a solution will be made. He does everything effortlessly. So, ask.

Seek and you will find

You must have heard/read these words from the Bible: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks, receives. He who seeks, finds. To him who knocks, it is opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

Do you think all this is rhetoric? That such things, if they ever actually happened, happened only in the past and that God doesn't show up these days? That miracles don't happen anymore? To this, I'll say, isn't a baby a miracle! Think of it: a sperm cell meets an egg and in nine months you have a living creature—flesh, blood and bones, and a heart, a mind, a soul—breathing, feeling, thinking. It's from a tiny seed that a giant tree originates. A caterpillar turns into a pupa and then into a butterfly. If you just stop taking life for granted and think, everything is a miracle.

A line in a bhajan goes like this: 
Log kehte hain bhagwaan aate nahi, woh to kehta hai tum to bulaate nahi. I was astounded when I first heard it. We say He doesn't come; He says you don't call!

Purpose defeated, not I

Well, I had started writing this post (about a week ago) and wrote the previous one with a desire that a particular friend comes across them and sees hope, gains faith and doesn't give up on his/her highest ideals of love and life. My purpose is defeated by now.

I have been the side-hero of many a failed love story, tried more than my best to help but could not make a dent. In any of those love stories, had it been me in place of the person who gave up, I believe the tale would have ended on the note of "And they lived euphorically ever after..." I've always wished that my words inspire and lift others. And I've always failed. My message was never understood/believed. I've not given up yet, on this trying to help others thing. Gandhiji had said, "My life is my message." And, my life will be my message. While my words never made an impact, the story of my life will. Try talking about faith and hope, and you can see a "whatever" forming in people's mind. I'll achieve the highest ideals of love and life and then people will say, "Yeah, he was right."

Have you seen Bruce Almighty? Towards the end of the movie, Morgan Freeman, playing God, tells Jim Carrey: "You want to see a miracle, son? Be a miracle." The unforgettable line is now my mission.

December 05, 2011

Torment at the end of the road

Weighed down by life's cruelties, she found herself stuck at the end of the road. Watching from above, God whispered: "My child, look up, look around. It's not the end of the road. It's just a bend in the road."

She could not hear; sound of the bygone, happy days was ringing in her ears, haunting her. She could not see; having seen only pain everywhere, she had neither the strength nor the desire to see anything now. She was just standing there, wishing she could be numb so that she could deal with the rest of life, if merely surviving can be called a life. Reading her mind, God thought: "If only she would wish for guidance instead..."

She was devastated. She raised her eyes, but there was the stonewall in front of her. That seemed to be her future—cold and lifeless. She did not want to be here. She looked back at the road, the pleasant journey and let out a sigh. She had dreams, great dreams, grand dreams. She thought of everything she cherished and felt happy. And now she felt sad. Everything she cherished is left behind. Whatever remains will soon be left behind. 
A tear trickled down her cheek. She didn't even care to wipe it. There used to be people who used to wipe her tears for her. But here, at the 'end' of the road, she's alone. And then she cried some more. As a teardrop from her lovely but sad eyes kissed the dirt around her feet, Mother Earth wished if only the poor soul would look around instead of looking at the wall ahead and the past behind.

But she was blank, just like the 'life' and stonewall she had in front of her. This point in journey had taken its toll on her. It was draining her every moment. But now that she had compromised with her highest ideals of life and love, she didn't mind emptiness. The emptier the better. She asked the cruelty that landed her here to drain her completely; the emotionless state would make her immune to her misery. She asked her angels to stonewall her feelings, just like the wall. Meanwhile, her guardian angels were asking that she just ask them for help.

She knew she was once a pretty picture but now she was a picture of pity. Her soul wailed at what she wanted of life and what became of it. She just stood there, clutching on to her dreams, all the while pretty clear that she has to let it go. She has nightmare to embrace, after all. She just stood there, trying to be numb. Observing her, her spiritual guides hoped she hopes a hope.

But she just stood there, tormented. Her once-happy past was tormenting her. The stonewall in front was tormenting her. And the end of the road was tormenting her. And, watching from above, God whispered: "My child, look up, look around. It's not the end of the road. It's just a bend in the road."

December 04, 2011

Troubled by a recurrent dream. Why?

In class 12, I had failed in four out of five subjects in the first pre-board exam, which was held less than three months before the boards. Had scored 88 in English and about half of it in four other subjects taken together. Failed in two or three subjects in the second pre-board and in physics in the third pre-board. A week before the board exams, we had to collect our admit card from the principal. He withheld my admit card. As I had failed in physics in all the three pre-boards, the principal said he'd give me the admit card only after I get "clearance" from the physics teacher that I can pass in the board exam.

I went to the physics teacher, he said he'd hold a test of one-hour duration that would have questions from first three units. About half a dozen defaulters like me appeared for that test. And I failed in that too. That was less than 72 hours before the first board exam—physics.

Of course, there's no way the principal could deny me the admit card. I gave the exam and passed it, all the subjects, to bewilderment and joyous disbelief of my parents, teachers and peers alike.

The haunting

Now, this forms the premise of my recurring nightmare. In the dream, I'm in class 12, the board exams is just a couple of months away and I don't know a zilch. And there're so many problems, in the two books of maths; big, thick books of physics, chemistry; the entire coding and theory of two computer programmes. I don't know a thing. In the dream, I am jittery all the time, wondering how will I—if, at all—pass the exam.

An uphill task is approaching. Accomplishing it is highly improbable. Failing it will have disastrous consequences. I'm very nervous, very anxious, very afraid, very distressed. I have that sinking feeling. Sinking as deep as the core of the earth.

This dream feels so real, so scary that it wakes me up. I get up with my heart still pounding. I look around, realise I'm a post-graduate now, have a decent job. That I passed the board exam. Phew! It takes me some time to gather myself and say, "Ok, relax. That was past."

An omen?

The dream has become more frequent. And more scary. And every time it wakes me up, I'm asking myself if it is an omen. Are Gods/my spiritual guides trying to send some message? As in, time is running out, boy, act fast or face the consequences. What's this dream about?

Taking a cue from the incidence of the concurrence of its recurrence with the apparent evidence of absence of my emotional prudence, I think I've got its essence. When my alliance with friends ends, owing to the prevalence of turbulence, it disheartens me to great lengths. Enters disturbance, leaving no semblance of balance and my heart twists and bends. When I have no audience to my questions, the magnificence of the friend's passive belligerence tends to kill the existence of my effervescence. When pretense replaces innocence, goodbye means good-riddance, the malignance of the distance and other's reluctance to make amends sends me into tense moments.

Gone is fragrance, prevails pungence, but I hope you dance as I wake up to the brilliance of acceptance. Also, as I glance at this instance of my forbiddance 'cuz appearance of my sentiments suggests overbearance, well, s/he misunderstands. Good sense recommends avoiding reminiscence. And I've learnt the lessons, hence the blogpost ends. Meanwhile, I pray for guidance, and another chance.

“This has got to be a nightmare; I haven't woken up yet.
—Curtis Sliwa