The dark mahogany door opened into a room with full length dark mahogany cupboards on the right. To the left was a four-poster double bed, its head, another dark mahogany affair, to the wall behind it. White sheets covered the bed. To the other side of the bed, a white lampshade rested on top of a dark cabinet.
I know what you are. I know what you did. I know what you are doing, and also what you might do if things run as they are running now. Don’t pretend in front of me. I know most people are taken in by this pretending, but I’m not going to be.
I can understand that you want to pretend in front of the world. Many of them judge. And you’re afraid that they will judge you. You’re afraid of being judged.
In your heart, you know what you did was wrong. You also know what you’re doing is wrong. Yet, you’re doing the same thing again. You’re doing it again because this is your way of convincing yourself what you did was not wrong. You keep telling yourself that some good will come out of it, or that this is how the world operates, or that this is something wrong, but you need it so it’s okay to keep doing it…
At the bottom of everything is the idea, the axiom, entrenched within yourself, which you’re afraid to face. And that is, that you’re a bad person because of the wrong you did.
You’re not bad. I know that. You’re as good as the best person you know. Trust me on that.
Just because you did something wrong, doesn’t make you bad.
Own up what you did, face it. Feel for it. Regret it.
I know sometimes things get hazy. You’re not able to decide what is right and what is wrong. But trust me, this is not your fault. The world is a very complicated place. So many layers of uncertainty cloud your vision sometimes and you’re not able to decide what is right and what is wrong. And as a result you make mistakes.
But don’t lie to yourself. Own up your mistakes.
And when the need comes to own them in front of someone, and you’re afraid you might get judged, come to me.
I will understand.
“Hello, Where are you, sir?”
“I’m in front of the school building, Shekar, where are you?”
“Even I’m in front of the building, sir…”
I raised a hand, and moving it so as to catch attention, I did a full 360 degrees, looking around for someone talking on the phone. I registered no one.
Still waving, I said, “Shekar, do you see me…?”
And almost as soon as I’d said it, I wished I could eat those words.
Of course Shekar didn’t see me.
That was because Shekar couldn’t see. If he could, there was no need for me to be there.
He was one of the students of the Special School for whom a group of us from Samvedana were acting as ‘scribes’, for their intermediate AP Board examinations.
Lost for words, I raced my mind for another plausible question which he could answer to reveal his location to me.
“Uh, okay, what colour shirt are you wearing, Shekar?”
“Umm, black sir, it’s black.”
I was out of the school campus now. Looking around, I saw at some distance what appeared to me to be a group of visually impaired kids. One of them was talking animatedly on his cellphone. I went to him.
“Hey, are you Shekar?”
The voice recognition was instant. “Ohh, Aniket sir.”
“Yes, Shekar, how are you?”
I held out a hand, only to keep staring at it for about ten seconds. Finally, I extended the arm and patted him on the shoulder.
He was wearing a maroon-colored T Shirt.
The exam was Hindi, and by conventional standards, Shekar wasn’t very good at it. Neither had I expected him to be. After all, hailing from a village in Andhra, he isn’t supposed to know Hindi in the first place. But far above anything else, he doesn’t read, and he doesn’t write. Whatever he knew was what he had remembered from what a dedicated teacher had read to him.
He knew the Antonyms and Synonyms very well. But when it came to doing sentence correction, he simply fluttered his blank eyes with all the more fervor. And had all of them wrong. I had anticipated this situation, and had planned to write as much as I could for him. Also, I had resolved to let this be his knowledge that I was writing whatever he was telling me to. But now I was mired in dilemma. Didn’t Shekar deserve to know the exact place he had carved out for himself in this world full of kids more advantaged than himself? Should the chance of this one humble, but true pride be denied to him? Or should it be the case that given his condition, he should be allowed to use as much luck as came his way? Will it be luck at all to get more marks than what he actually deserved? Or did he deserve more than what he actually would have got under a neutral scribe, and thus a partial scribe was only a fair thing to have?
What will be better for him? Knowing exactly where he stood in the world, or the confidence boost that inevitably comes after a good score in the exams, howsoever may it have been acquired?
The exam got over, we gave them chocolates and packed their bags, and Sushant, my co-scribe for another kid and I asked them who was coming to take them home. There was some confusion at first, but a few phone calls here and there (the kids kept some important phone numbers to memory) confirmed that they were going on their own.
Sushant and I were worried, and asked them whether we could walk them to the nearest bus stop at least. But they insisted on going by themselves. Concerned, we kept watching as they walked down the road for some distance, and then stopped. Sushant and I, convinced that they were in trouble, went to them to offer help, but we needn’t have worried; as soon as we came within earshot, we realized that they had stopped only to do some BC and to discuss about the paper.
We, the eyed ones entered a nearby shop to have a pepsi. The three and a half hour exam had been tiring for us, too. As we came out of the shop, we saw the kids at the far end of the road, barely visible now.
While on the way to IIIT, Sushant revealed to me that Sujaykar, the kid he had been writing for, had solved almost the entire Sanskrit paper, and could easily expect 95+ marks. Sushant had assured him that his paper had been written in a very legible hand, and that he could expect excellent marks from the paper. At this, Sujaykar had told him that he wasn’t worried about passing or failing. That the results were all up to God.
Indeed it must be this faith which keeps their hopes and sincerity up in these times when people with everything provided for are giving up. As the picture of the kids, walking down the far end of the road and farther away from us came to my mind, I wondered how far would I have gone.
Thanks, Samvedana, for providing me with this wonderful experience. Let’s go some distance along the steps we have taken.
A junior of mine was telling me about the time when he recently hung around with some alumni. He was kinda surprised that the alumni had received him so well.
I wondered as to why should it be a matter of surprise to any IIITian that an alumnus is welcoming him, and asked him why he thought so.
“Ab sir, yehi hai na, mein koi neta toh hoon nahi…” (“The thing is sir, I’m not a neta…”)
I looked at him for some time, trying to gauge whether the words that had come out were the cover-up of a frustrated sour-grapes-wannabe loser or the expression of a feeling genuinely harbored in the past.
I’ve known some people who remained at the forefront of extra-curricular activities in recent years. And yes, I do think for some of them that they thought that that made them belong to some elite class. But I’d also always thought that these people were the only ones who thought so. That even one guy not from the so-called ‘elite’ class has notions of the ‘eliteness’ of an elite class points to a problem. And this is entirely new for me.
I can hardly solve the problem, if there exists any such. And examining this issue in detail is something that I think I’m least qualified to do. I can only say this much to my juniors.
That you need NOT be a neta to expect a warm welcome from me when I am no longer a student of this institute. Or now, when I am leading a fairly active campus life in my fourth year. A knock on the door and some good manners will do just fine.
And that this also holds true at least for all my friends who are studying in or have passed out from IIIT.
I was thinking of planning a new blog. A long way back when this blog was started, I had no distinct vision for it. With all due respect to the three years younger Aniket, he was probably too immature and nascent to think about things like ‘distinct vision’ and stuff. So this blog started. As my thoughts found an outlet, they flew in more and more freely and found their place on this blog. All kinds of thoughts and observations (from personal interests like music and athletics to philosophy to social commentary) made their way here. In between were a few works of fiction, too.
Some time back, there started coming some creative literary ideas in my head. And this blog started acquiring a literary shape. Soon I began to notice a certain reluctance in myself in writing random/ general/ non-literary posts, as it might destroy the specific ‘literary’ character of my blog.
I finally decided that it wasn’t good to stub out my thoughts and not take up non-literary themes. Also, that the majority of posts have been literary in nature and that this newly acquired character should be preserved. So, there should be a separate blog for non-literary, personal kind of posts.
Quite a few questions arose after I decided to create another post. Okay, the literary works will be here on this blog. What about the past non-literary works? I decided to shift them to the new blog, too.
“What about the comments, then?” “Okay, even they will be shifted.”
“Wait, this doesn’t seem right!” “Hell, not all things are supposed to be right, Okay!”
But then there were practical issues. People might have bookmarked, or at least identified some of the posts, and might want to visit them again. This partition ends that possibility, however remote it may be. Also, the blog records would be disturbed. Finally I thought I’d keep the older posts where they were and start posting personal posts on a different blog.
Now, what separates a personal post from a literary post? Are my travelogues literary? Of course. Are they not personal? Like hell they are. What about some of the philosophy? It makes for some good literary reading (by my standards), but is also intensely personal. What about the stories? Even they are written from personal experiences, and express personal angst.
“Is it really possible to tell where ‘personal’ ends and ‘literary’ begins? Can I really draw a line here?”
An island was inhabited by aborigines. They weren’t much advanced, and took life as it came. Soon, colonisers came and occupied the island. They brought with them their religion, their culture and their science. As others from their original place found that here was a place of opportunity, they started coming in droves. Soon the immigrants outnumbered the aborigines. Their leaders now started oppressing the aborigines. They told them that the island had a distinct culture, and that they, the aborigines did not fit into it. Therefore they had to leave, or they would be driven out.
In another such island, the aborigines were stronger. They were still in majority in certain areas. They successfully demanded a separate country from themselves.
But the differences between the communities hadn’t been as clear cut. The aborigines and the colonisers had come in contact, and adapted from each others’ ways. Many rituals and cultural traits were common. Some people had intermarried and had mixed kids. These kids had traits common to both aborigines and immigrants and if was impossible to tell which was which.
It was, therefore, impossible to partition one community completely from the other. Such a partition could never have the exactness of a surgical operation. Surgical operations can never be performed on two intertwined creepers. Such creepers, if separated, are bound to bleed for a long, long time. The wounds can often get septic, and become incurable diseases.
Just like Kashmir has become for India and Pakistan. And it is paining like hell these days. Even harder is the pain of the Kashmiri Pandits, who were driven out of their homeland despite being one with the majority Muslim population, just because some people thought that they didn’t fit in the overall character of the valley.
I’ve decided that my blog will stay as it is. And I wish certain other decisions were up to me.
Well ppl, most of the regulars at blogging and blog reading must’ve read a lot of blogs dedicated to somebody’s girlfriends. And why only blogs! A lot of the beautiful work in poetry of every language is about girlfriends. So,it is usually very unusual to write about one’s sisters. Well, I have no girlfriend (never gave it a serious thought actually ;)), but i have been very lucky, entirly very very fortunate as far as sisters and my relationships with them are concerned. I have a lot of them,and they mean the world to me.
My childhood, my teenage, infact my entire lfe would’ve been nothing without my sisters. Mom tells me when i was very young, about 2 yrs old, my elder sis, who used to be 5 at that time, used to read me any comic book that she could, and i would look at her, my mouth agape, and would later memorize everything. My younger sister unknowingly gave me a lot of self esteem, as with her pleasant arrival came the realisation to me, that suddenly I was ‘elder’ to somebody. I still remember how I would recall each and every person I knew from memory, and on comparison, I would always find that everybody was older than me. It was then that the thought of Sunanda comforted me. Somebody at last,was younger and smaller!
My first flings which later became full blown affairs for the lifetime, with music and books were started by my elder sis, Munmun didi, whom i call Mundidi for short. She introduced me to the world of cassettes, magazines and novels as easily and lovingly as she had introduced me to cricket and comic books a few years ago. She would do all the buying, and issuing and I used to reap the full rewards of her efforts. I, who was comsidered too small and careless to be entrusted with such things, and I know that if those things hadn’t been given to me on a platter by her, I wouldn’t have bothered anyways, and thus would’ve remained a barbaric savage, to see nothing beyond my trekking and wandering and wondering and cricket and probably some textbooks…almost every new thing in my life used to be initiated by her, and the process continues, the latest addition to the list being the guitar. Yeah, it was didi again, who arranged for me to learn the guitar, which is now my latest crush, and a big source of inspiration, satisfaction, popularity and of course, enjoyment.
My didi told me which friends to keep (although i never listened to her), but her advices taught me quite a few things in life. I’ve faced two serious breaches of trust in my life so far, and both of them had been predicted by her. As for sunandi, I was always her elder brother, very protective, and have fought quite a few bloody battles for her. I knew there was always a code of conduct for me, as I was sunanda’s brother. And as everybody can see,there still is!
Time has flown on its wings and thankfully, we all are now well settled in our respective fields. The differences in our ages have diluted, and now nobody’s elder or younger. Our relationships have evolved, and physical distances have grown, but we still share each and every small detail in life. I almost constantly need help and guidance from my sisters on every account. And why just help and guidance? I simply need to share, just tell them about each and every small detail of what all’s been happening to me. Both my sisters are such an integral part of my life!
I don’t want to end this blog by saying any such thing that goes without saying (love you or miss u), but i honestly wonder what made god give such a jerk like me, two of the best sisters in the world???