The mission

I was chosen after a lot of deliberation.

It must have been a difficult choice, and most likely a choice made out of compulsion, not unlike choices that we all make. Convoluted deception is no different than delusion and the freedom we seek, that we fight for is not for free will but for an exoneration from our mediocrity.

This confidence with which I proclaim that I wasn’t a willful choice stems from my lack of interest in the scheme of things and in every endeavor that I find myself pushed into. This indolence conveniently translated to silence during the crucial debate. The candidates, that is my brothers who like to call themselves comrades, without any inkling to the sinister connotations of the word, were as interested as I was to go on the mission. However, interest is as subjective as the perceived object on which it is intended, mine didn’t overcome the barriers of my doubts, regarding speech, at the least.

So why was I chosen, you might ask.

Not that you are compelled to but you shouldn’t mind since I am already answering the question. The biggest deterrent to asking questions is the pause, that knowing look you hate, or in the worst case counter questions that you have to go through. I suggest blinking. It usually works, blink now and read on.

So the answer is consensus. It always favors the silent, that non-committal underdog who you would love to evaluate but you know you would get only so far. I didn’t intend to be that insufferable underdog though. Everything I am and everything I do is driven by one quality, that defining quality of nature, of the universe, and of every sentient being that we lovingly call ‘laziness’.

It is inertia and not thought that defines existence, for if we take an initiative we run the risk of straying, the natural tendency therefore is to go with the flow or not move at all. It is the basis of society and civilization. But everything around us, including our Gods, our ethics, sciences and arts conspire to show us glimpses of a brilliant horizon, almost within reach, a temptation that is as vile as sin.

Unlike my so called comrades, I resist this seduction with the only weapon I possess, the one that I don’t need to brandish, or sharpen or even apply on the opponents. Optimism defends laziness in a way that is so elegant that we cant help not to overlook. Perfection, though very virtuous never gets our attention. It is too academic to appeal. Baboons over ages have developed a keen sense to detect imperfections, the blemishes and aberrations which are the biggest weaknesses of men, the only competing species left after years of global warming, and cooling and the whale wars and…well, to sum up much has happened that you may not remember, neither would your great grandspecies. But like us, men have learnt to harness the outliers, it is not the perfect but the mutants that are their biggest strength.

Given the state of the world, you would assume that there would be conflict to reach the apex, but you would be as wrong as the wolves are. These preparations, carried on both sides is not to outdo each other and reach the apex, but collaborate to reach the moon. With the moon worked up day and night, the howling never stops. We tried killing these pesky wolves but they reproduce with a libido that is proportional to the rate of decimation.

The prevalent notion in the ghettos is that they are trying to tell us something, but after careful study of Howlish and the EM waves from the moon it was proven that wolves alphabet had no consonant and that the source of the waves lies on the moon. We just hope it is on the surface of the moon and that they continue to communicate with vowels. It is not so well established however if the emitter was always there on the moon, our records show no readings till the age when men used to be those annoying apes.

If you scavenge for achievements of men in history books, you would find their obsession with moon, both in their arts and in science. This scouring for moon in men records is mostly carried out by the irritating standup comedians who never tire of the moon mission jokes. But, one cant be sure. Maybe they did plant the device, at least thats what my dad used to think. He compensated his obsession with conspiracy theories by his equally weird and unbaboonic sense of humor. Carrying a human name, that too Neil Armstrong must have had an effect on me, not that I am aware of but then awareness is a lot of work that gets you nowhere.

I wait in this circular white paneled room for my human comrade and the mission briefing. I know how it would go, that slow and steady simulated voice which will drone on and on. There is a white table in the center with a single banana, shining and tempting like a joke you like but would rather not laugh at. I hope my name when announced will have the same effect. What I wish for is that you, the commiserating alien, or a more evolved species would read this note and try to locate the abomination and destroy it. I feel sleepy already, fighting the urge to eat the banana is tiring.


Swallows, untamed (a repost)

There was a place,
where the fluttering swallows hid,
in the stories of the dragons
and demons that always died,
in the memories of the girl in a blue dress
who played coy but never smiled,
in the fights for who gets to bat first,
in the echoes of the deserted swimming pool,
resonating with the simple thrills
of irresponsible abandon untold.

There is now a place,
where the catatonic swallows hide,
waiting to fly with the wings of restraints,
mourning the loss of the simple thrills,
the abandon sold for better frills,
lost in translation or just the commute,
a fortitude, a facade or an attempt to efface.
Headed for the inexplicable at an inexorable pace,
mourning the loss of the simple thrills and
living to forget the girl with the blue frills,
there is always a place surreptitious
where the restless swallows nest.


on guilt and persecution…(a repost)

There is water everywhere, imparting a sense of panic within. It is not that I am scared of water; on the contrary, I have always liked the sight, sound and even the feel of water on my body. Swimming in my opinion is the most exhilarating thing one can do when alone and want to be alone, erasing everything else around. The presence of a water body enhances the beauty of any place, I can spend hours watching the ocean play with the winds, lakes undulating under the morning breeze, even the muddy pools, those leftovers from a recent bout of rain makes me long for paper boats, splashing it on an unsuspecting passerby and such insipid, innocent fun.

But the water that surrounds me now is different, it’s unbearably blue almost as if I am looking at a summer sky, or maybe it is the sky. There is only so much that delineates the ocean and the sky at the horizon, here though I feel like I am standing in the middle of the world on a rock projecting from the tranquil pristine water pervading all tangible dimensions as if I am finally able to see eternity. This vision though calming when juxtaposed with my presence makes me feel like a blemish and the asphalt rock my darkened soul that is holding me steady. I turn my head to find the unchanging waters stare back at me from every direction and with such serenity that it blinds my eyes. I squint and peer at it for some deviation, some distraction in this aquatic perfection, only to discover that it is shallow. The limpid water even lets me see the bed of sand so clearly that I can make out it’s not sand, the surface is polished and possesses the same color as the vitrified tiles in my room. This realization strikes me hard, I could just get off the rock and start walking, these are not dangerous waters and there is no reason why I must get this feeling of extreme unrest, why must I accept I am some deformation in the perfect creation and scheme of things. But try as I may my legs won’t budge. Any movement or change from the state I am seems fraught with an ineffable danger, a danger of crossing the thin line that separates uncertainty and futility.

Thus I am left with no choice but to ruminate, not just on this particular situation and the internal dilemma but about everything that my mind with its limited abilities would allow me to ponder about. As soon as you do that, giving your mind a free rein to analyze a disagreeable situation the first thing it brings up is guilt. If guilt had a face it won’t be able to wipe out the smirk, or at least mine wouldn’t be able to. Is this some kind of retribution, guilt suggests, the smirk getting a chuckle for company. I have never committed any crime in the purview of the laws that qualify crime and decide the fate of criminals. But my guilt feeds on the many moral and ethical transgressions, I have; for instance, been cruel to the point of harming people who loved and cared for me. There were and always will be reasons and justifications for my actions, not of the usual namesake or the superficial kind either. I truly believe in them. This is what my guilt smirks at maybe, but do I care or do I act snobbish with my educated reasoning for the most disconcerting actions. I say disconcerting because it affected others in a way I cannot really understand, behavior of people who get close to you invariably end up baffling you.

Once you handle guilt with such high-handed dismissal, the next thing your mind throws at you is the feeling of helplessness, an enquiry into what is fair and what is not. Why am I being persecuted I start thinking. Why should I be in this absurd place, who decides the course of my life, is there any logic that drives our existence, is there a free will. If I was selfish and in the process hurt people, or to be more specific two people and probably a few more, and a dog, then somewhere in the grand vision of this arbitrary arbiter they would be found equally responsible. I don’t so much remember the details of why I broke up with the girls but I vividly remember the dog and the incident in the dark of the night. It barked for no apparent reason, I did what it takes to get it silenced. Also, I am not even sure if it was much hurt because it ran back to his compatriots, who looked at me in synchronized vision making me take flight. As for the people, they were much better off without me as I was without them in my life, so in a way in the bigger picture I did the right thing and for everyone’s good. So why am I stuck here; why do I still feel guilt; why am I helpless; unable to move.

The answers dawned upon me with a shock; an alarming shock to be precise, originating from the inconsiderate phone lying hidden among the folds of the bed sheet, or probably lying on the floor next to the bed kicked out during one of my usual subconscious acts that dramatically end in my waking up with a bad hangover. Dramatic I say because more often than not, after the nights when I ingest more poison that I know I am capable of digesting, I find myself waking up diagonally opposite and in complete disarray that it takes a few seconds to register I was sleeping, and the world is still sane.


Whale meat tastes like nationalism


With the world seemingly shifting towards the vegan end of dietary range, either out of choice as in the USA and UK, or by the increasing incidence of diseases like obesity and diabetes as in China, it comes as a surprise that Japan left IWC to resume whale hunting for meat.

Whaling industry prospered in the 17th to 19th century primarily due to the demand for whale oil. With petroleum replacing the need of oil, and the economics of whaling which included procuring costs and its sustenance depending on the dwindling whale populations, whaling industry went for a demise. IWC was conveniently set up in 1946 to provide for the conservation of whales and some regulation on the whaling industry. But there were nations that hunted whales not just for the oil, and there were nations that developed efficient methods which along with lower wages still made whaling economical. These nations, most notably Norway and Japan opposed IWC’s moratorium on whaling.

Whale meat seems to be a food of compulsion rather than of choice. Lack of protein sources in arctic countries like Norway, Iceland and Greenland made whale meat acceptable for consumption. With economic prosperity however, human consumption of whale meat declined. Norway still hunts whales for animal feed on its profitable fur farms. Iceland earns more by preservation of whales than by hunting for meat, whale watching is a lucrative business in tourism.

The demand of whale meat as a source of protein, grew in Japan after World War II when the country was in shambles. With a spectacular revival its economy over the next decade it soon joined the club of rich nations and people forgot the years of penury and the taste of whale meat. The new generation doesn’t even remember to have once eaten the meat, and with reports of poisoning of our oceans and high levels of heavy metals in whale meat, it seems unlikely that it would be back on the menu.

So why did Japan leave IWC? It is a question that puzzles the world, especially given Japan’s overt attempts of creating and maintaining an image of a responsible nation. One explanation, and the most reasonable one, is that it is about politics. There are constituencies that depends on the whaling industry, those which thrived even during the period when Japan was a member of IWC. It didn’t stop the Japanese from hunting whales, but they did it for scientific research, a deep and thorough research that necessitated killing of the whales. With world politics increasingly tilting towards the right, Japan doesn’t seem to be unaffected. The government made a strong political statement of Japanese nationalism by moving from the earlier hypocritical stand of scientific research and openly defying IWC to preserve centuries old tradition.

This article is motivated by my current interest in whales but with no idea about what whale meat tastes like.

Have you ever tried? Would you?


Lightning strikes in Moby Dick and South Carolina

I have been reading Moby Dick for the last few months and making unbearably slow progress. Unlike people who read many books at a time, and finish off enough in one week to publish reading updates on Goodreads and blogs, I take months to finish a book. This might be because reading time comes at a premium when you have a job that occupies your not just your day time but also the evenings with dawdling meetings, or it maybe because there are just too many distractions in everyday life in the form of socializing offline, socializing online, multitude of video streaming subscriptions that keep flashing new content in phone notifications, and last but not the least, the 100 overs of each ICC Cricket World Cup matches.

This book came as a recommendation in the form of a comment by Masercot when I published a review of Wuthering Heights, a book that took me ages to read because I read it twice. This is another reason why I take longer to finish a book, and unlike what I might have said in my review, my rereads are motivated by the fact that it takes me longer than an average reader to absorb new content. Wuthering Heights, in spite of its cold, dreary outlook has the content that is very intriguing.

Anyways, coming back to the book in hand, or rather in my Kindle which has somehow managed to creep into the cupboard filled with washed but un-ironed clothes and needs to be found. Instead of spending time to search for it, I sit and wonder if Kindle with a ringer that can be activated by the phone will be a good feature in the next version. I don’t understand why they made it waterproof, no one reads in the rain and readers are a species which have not evolved enough to spill their drinks. Coming back to the book again, it has been a testing experience to say the least. Melville is a chronic rambler, putting my claims of being a rambler to such a shame that I feel I should change the title of my blog.

‘Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street..’ – Chapter 1, Loomings.

‘And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.’ – Chapter 1, Loomings.

The beginning was poetic as quoted above, but then he goes off on tangents. There are elements of whaling, religion, homoeroticism, chowder, the list just goes on creating a medley of diverse topics and themes. He comes out as a writer who wants you to understand the topic as thoroughly as a professor of physics would do. The sentences keep getting longer, along with the hyphens he uses to punctuate. There seems to be a deliberate attempt to obfuscate, making you wonder why he didn’t keep it short and sweet as is the norm of our age.

A short and crisp sentence, or a paragraph, gives a finality to the thought being put forward. It is about committing to a point of view. With people struggling to manage time between the multitude of activities, our age demands such crispness. Read and then move on is the mantra, but Melville with his antics slows you down. It is frustrating and yet you read and then reread the sentence. Rereading forces you to stray, and makes you think if he was saying something totally different than what comes off at the face value. Even the most cursory reader will be forced to evaluate if there is an allusion every now and then, especially when you see those hyphens.

If you have reached to this point having carefully read the post till now, you might be wondering why am I writing this when I am not done with the book, nor am I claiming to have understood it. Luckily for you, I have a satisfying answer to this question, satisfying to me that is.

After having given up on newspapers, I have been relying completely on Google feed for my daily news. Google, with its algorithms keeps feeding me more of what I am interested in, so these days it is filled with news about the Cricket World Cup and Disha Patani’s midriff. It was therefore a shocker when they inserted a news item: lightning strikes a tree in South Carolina in the middle of cricket and navel sightings. I have never expressed interest(Google-wise, which is not so wise it seems) in South Carolina or lightning strikes. The only relevance I can figure out is because I have recently read Chapter 28. It is one of those interesting, allusive chapters that makes you read between the hyphens, if not the lines. There is a reference to lightning striking a tree in the most unscientific way that puzzled me.

‘It resembled that perpendicular seam sometimes made in the straight, lofty trunk of a great tree, when the upper lightning tearingly darts down it, and without wrenching a single twig, peels and grooves out the bark from top to bottom, ere running off into the soil, leaving the tree still greenly alive, but branded.’ – Chapter 28, Ahab.


Innocence regained

I. The Origin

I have always existed, they tell me,
like a shapeless infinite
or an idea of eternity,
soaked in timeless wonder.

Weakened limbs and fledgling wings
dipped in a blue blood – the water
that still carries the primordial cries
of unborn thoughts and unsung civilizations.

An unwanted evolution
that carved me into a mirage,
a reflection of origin, of truth,
and also of something grand
like the vision of innocence.

II. The Ocean

The story unfolds
in the folds and wrinkles
of the great unyielding rock,
aging and decaying as it breaks
reluctantly into small rugged images.

I, like my peers tried to battle the flow
holding my ground with ingrained roots,
a tenacity borne of sediments of time
under the waves, nurturing and violent.

Unaware of the erosion of my doubts,
I winced when the weak drifted to the dark
and then rejoiced my fortuitous survival.

Polished to a shine, I danced, frolicking
under the gentle caresses of mother,
a god of tides on a shore of consciousness.
Lapped in her breath and feeling loved
I remained in bliss, my conscience burnished.

III. The statue

Why then did you create the grounds
I asked the god, mother who let go of me,
a world beyond my world and its hands
that smelled of reason, of sweat and war.

They plucked me from the pristine embrace
and guided me towards an unquenchable thirst
for knowledge and a discovery of innate evil.

Bruised, probed, and examined for years,
scalpels of right and wrong and
chisels of science and art
gave me a shape, a rigid form
as I transformed into a man, standing alone
at the altar in the middle of nowhere,
a statue in the town square.

The center of attraction and deference
I stood discerning the facade, vying for a glance,
for an unassuming love, a kiss of fleeting interest
and on lonesome nights I looked up for a sign
waiting for rain, or even a few dewdrops to hide,
a bolt of destiny that might shattered my anguish,
as I mourn the loss of innocence.

IV. A reincarnation

It didn’t burn like my ambitions did,
it didn’t break the way ideals always do,
just vanished, like an angel in the clouds,
with wings made of white nothingness
and the feather it dropped is probably fantasy
as on the vestiges of my loss grew tendrils of
a few insipid dreams, fragile as a tentative faith.

The bliss I search now is not in ignorance,
or despite the despotic logic that refutes
and mocks, it’s not in my dreamy escapades.
With a unfounded resolve I delve deeper
into the excavations of the lost cities of innocence.
Nothing deters me, not the aches of a lost limb,
of the lost wing that once carried a purpose, of life.

At the end or the beginning of another origin
a reverberating voice speaks, to me,
speaks like me, rising without pain
from the ocean within, piercing the
stone that is now the rational heart.
Continue to read on Olive skins


A reincarnation — Olive Skins

My poem got published in Olive Skins, an initiative by the surreal poet and one of the poets I admire a lot Devika Mathur.
Do check out other writers and posts on the site.

This poem is a part of a longer poem that I wrote, that I will publish shortly.

It didn’t burn like my ambitions did,
it didn’t break the way ideals always do,
just vanished, like an angel in the clouds,
with wings made of white nothingness…181 more words