The Child of War.

Bloodied from battle I rose,
From the altar of death – above my silenced legion.
Tears never seen came streaming out,
At the sight of a gashed head and a broken nose.

Once my brothers; now they lay around me,
And all I could do was stare –
At blown up houses, and uprooted trees;
At the pale faces and the rotting debris.

I looked at our flag – upright and tall,
We had won the battle, yet lost the war.
Countless women and children lying around,
A severed hand clutching a ragged doll.

It happened ages ago; that day,
And though the world celebrated my death with mournful silence;
Not medals,
But guilt decorated the grave where I lay.

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A New Beginning.

The following article is dedicated to my high-school batch-mates: Indian School Muscat, Class of 2013.

 

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu.

 

For the past month or so, I’ve been suffering from a huge writer’s block. You know that time when either you’re completely out of ideas or a way of transforming those ideas into words. But today, as I was staring at my blog and feeling hopeless for not being able to think of any topic for my new post, I decided to let it go and (grabbing my iPod) I went for a walk.

Though my mood was troubling me, my mind was wandering along the tunes of the songs playing on my iPod. I had just strolled through the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and I was about to fast forward the romance that Lady Antebellum was having with my ears, when Graduation by Vitamin C started playing. It hadn’t even reached past its first chorus, when I was already battling my emotions. My eyes had become red, yet, for some reason, the tears just weren’t coming.

The melancholy breeze and the fast pace of the song made me realize that time is literally suffocating all of us, and that the golden period of our school life has drawn to a close.

Yes, things haven’t always been easy for us – we have all gone through heartbreaks and failures. But, as J.K Rowling said in her commencement speech at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association in 2008, – “Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.” Every single thing that has happened in these past years, may that be good or bad, has molded us to what we are today, and what we will be tomorrow. And that’s the best thing about it.

Right now we are sitting on the runway of life, trying to prepare for takeoff. And at this point, I can’t think of anything else but how this whole journey started. Even today, I still recall how tensed I was when I first entered the gates of Indian School Muscat (ISM). I was intimidated by just looking at the huge stone structure and the thoughts of being away from home. But little did the small me realize that this same institution would prove to be one of the sole reasons of my existence – the backbone to my skeleton, the icing to my cake, the key to my lock and the heart to my love.

In a few days (or months), we are all going to go to different universities. We are all going to be far away.

Will university life be the same as school life? No. Will our university professors be anything like our high-school teachers? I don’t know. Will life be easier? Obviously not. Am I nervous? Hell yes.

What does tomorrow hold for us, I know not, but what I do know is that we will manage like we all have till now.

We have all promised to keep in touch, but somewhere down inside each one of us knows that it’s going to be very hard. Our academic obligations and the fact that we’ll all be in different parts of the world won’t let us stay tuned with each other’s lives, but there’s no harm in hoping, is there? As they say, ‘it’s the thought that matters’.

As I said before, I’m nervous. We all are. University life is going to be a new beginning. Right from making new friends to getting accustomed to a whole new place. It’s going to be out of our comfort zone – far from friends and family. But that’s just how life is, right? Life is like a cycle – first it gives us something new and expects us to get used to it, and when we finally do get used to it, it snatches that thing from us and gives us something entirely new. And then the process repeats itself.

It’s insane. It’s life.

But is change bad? It need not be. Sometimes change is necessary.

Do you guys remember the three stages of a butterfly’s life? First it’s an ugly caterpillar – scaring young girls and feeding on poor leaves. Then it cocoons itself into a larvae and enjoys some solitude and eats, eats a lot. Finally, it transforms into a butterfly – beautiful and colourful; giving joy to everybody who lays eyes on it.

Our lives are similar. For all we know, university might be the stage where we need to cocoon ourselves (with our books) and await our transformation into a butterfly. Think about it!

With this in mind, I switched off my iPod, realizing that, no matter how nervous I am about university life, I think I’m ready for the change. Because sometimes distance is necessary. Sometimes you need to be away to know who cares enough to keep in touch.

 

Dark Paradise

One from the archives. Wrote this a year back.

I have a dictator of a frenzied kind,
He extensively controls my psyche, soul and mind.
I still remember the day when I first met him,
It was at a store when I was young and prim.

“I’m obsessive”, he said, “I’ll never let go”,
“My addiction will enslave you, and forever it’ll grow”.
“You will crave for my touch; immense pleasure it’ll bring”,
“Day and night, to me, and only me you will cling”.

I was fascinated by him; it was love at first sight,
I asked my mom if I could bring him home that night.
She said fine, but don’t make this a routine.
That was when I was three, but now I’m seventeen.

Even today, I see him, nearly every day.
I met him yesterday, at a lonely cafe.
“Tell me who you really are”, I pleaded of him.
He told me everything, until the lights became dim.

“I’m a simple treasure,” He started to say,
“I never judge people, nor do I ever ask for pay”.
“You can count on my help, when you fall apart,”
“I’m an expert at mending a broken heart”.

He’s the one I rush to when I’m awake,
I can’t get rid of him, even for my love’s sake.
Many tell me this addiction is bad,
But in the affinity of chocolate, who can dare be sad?

For My Daughter.

I have a habit of keeping a dream diary. Every time I experience a ‘worthwhile’ dream, I note it down in it.

Last night was one such experience.

The dream started with me walking on a familiar road with a somewhat dejected stride. Apparently, I had been offered an internship at a magazine and my job entailed me having to interview a certain patient and her family at the Cancer Ward of a local hospital. So much for my first task, I thought!

Suzanne R. Fitzgerald – The youngest cancer patient in the ward, at the prime age of three years. Her family consisted of a father – Robert, and an uncle – Samuel (who was in jail). Nobody had any information on her mother. Some say she died during childbirth, while others narrate stories of her running away with her lover after leaving Suzanne with her father. Not that I really cared. I had one job to do, and I’d do it well.

I entered the hospital, the name of which I can’t recollect (It was a dream after all), but the cancer ward did look familiar. I enquired about Suzanne and was told that she’d be in room 307 with her father.

Robert was reading the morning newspaper when I entered the room. I introduced myself, and told him the reason for my uninvited presence. He was pretty welcoming and even offered to answer any of my questions until Suzanne arrived after her early morning check-up, which he said, “might take up to an hour”.

I thanked him and set up my voice recorder.

From Robert I learnt how Suzanne had developed Osteosarcoma (or bone cancer) a few weeks after childbirth. The doctors noticed it only months later and by then it had turned lethal. They had jotted down a humongous list of medications and multiple tests for Suzanne, which left Robert no choice but to shift to room 307.

“My wife, Emily, passed away 3 years ago leaving Suzzie with me. She’s all that’s left of my wife, and I love her to bits”, said Robert, trying his best to battle his tears. His in-laws had bequeathed her their family orchard, the revenue of which helped pay Suzanne’s bills.

“It’s not easy”, he asserted, “to look at your beautiful daughter, hold her, stare into her eyes, and tell her everyday that everything is going to be OK. More than giving her hope, you end up trying to console yourself because she trusts you. Every day I curse myself for having to lie to her. But I can’t do much. All I can do is smile and be there for her.”

“But she’s different. She loves it here. She has made her own friends amongst the nurses and the doctors. She doesn’t mind the check-ups, nor does she complain while taking her medications. She reads books, listens to songs, and sometimes watches movies on the television. She talks a lot, and I’m glad she does. She’s like a mystery wrapped in an enigma – No one knows what she might be up to next, but the people out here are nice. They love her and they’ve helped us a lot. One of the nurses even gifted her a doll.”

Just as he said that, a nurse brought Suzanne into the room. Standing by the door, clutching her old doll, she gifted me the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.

I had seen many types of smiles. Smiles that were masks; smiles that conveyed joy; smiles that showed enjoyment, pain and sometimes even sadness. But Suzanne’s smile was different. Her smile had innocence carved all over it. Her smile told the story of a girl who thought nothing could go wrong in this world – that hers was a world without problems. She didn’t know about war, hunger or Cancer.

Whether she knew that she was going to die soon or no, I know not. But what I know is that she was happy. I had read somewhere that ‘people wait all week for Friday, all year for summer and all their life for happiness’; but here I was standing face first with a 3 year old girl and her father who had found happiness in the worst of situations.

“Who is he, dad?” she asked as she ran up to Robert.

“He’s a friend”, replied Robert, “and he’s here to ask you some questions”.

“Actually, I’ve got all I wanted”, I said, before walking over to Suzanne and giving her a tight hug.

The wind had picked up outside, and I saw strains of black clouds near the horizon. Robert came out to drop me. “She’s nice, y’know,” he said, “I’m glad I got to spend time with her, even if it’s not much.”

“You’re brave,” I said, “Not everyone can smile through such hardship.”

 “I can cry if I want and people will be there to give me pity,” he confessed, “But I choose to smile. For My Daughter.”

The memory of the rest of my dream is unclear, as my alarm woke me up moments later. But as I stretched to clutch my dream diary from my bedside drawer, I realized one thing – “Happiness can be found in the direst of situations if only one remembers to smile.”

The Story of My Life – A Song.

A few days after my final exams got over and I was finally free of my academic obligations, I penned a few verses in memory of my grandmother. I imagined myself in the shoes of my grandfather and tried to picture the extent of his loss.

I then asked a musician friend of mine (Amol Jacob) to transform the verses into a song.  Hats off to Amol for giving a very soothing melody and for lending his voice to the song.

Special thanks to Ajin Tom for single-handedly helping us in the mixing.

You can listen to the song here.

And here are the lyrics:

The Story of My Life
(Lyrics by Nishad Sanzagiri)

The dread of this place never ends,
Songs of your memories replay in my head,
Our walks, our talks, our laughs, our cries –
Are now the story of my life.

Chorus: I don’t know why I can’t let it go,
I want you to come back to me.
Really want to call you mine.
I want to relive everything again.

This hymn – A tale of anguish;
A memoir of pain and suffering.
A message to that soul who changed;
The story of my life.

Those fluttering butterflies; the fresh springs
And the dancing amidst the flowers.
We rested in those woods – to rise again; a new,
Wish that was the story of my life.

The day I first saw you,
I knew you would be the one.
You were and always will be –
The story of my life.

Every day from dawn to dusk,
I cry to the tunes of the songs you sang for me.
The insecurity grips; chokes my life out –
That’s the story of my life.

Also read: A Story of Two Simple Souls.

My Enemy

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The weather was rather tumultuous today, and I decided to go to the beach and read a book. In the midst of the battering rain and the swift winds, I spent some time on introspection.

Life had never been a bed of roses for me. I had my fair share of heartbreaks and misfortunes, and I had always accepted them as being a part and parcel of this giant game called ‘life’. But today, as I stared intently at the waves caressing the rugged shoreline, a question that had been lingering in my subconscious for quite some time resurfaced. It was one of the most debated of my questions: Who is my Arch-nemesis? Who is the cause of my misfortunes?

Harry Potter and Voldemort, Batman and Joker, Optimus Prime and Megatron, Mowgli and Shere Khan. Even the common man and the terrorists. Literature and history are filled with heroes and villains. So the question of who my villain was had always perplexed me.

But today, I found my answer – I am my own enemy. And this follows my recent post (Taking The Road Not Taken) in which I say that my decisions will be my own and that I take responsibility for all of them.

I am not perfect, and I’ve never tried to be. I remember back in 4th grade, I had read of a drawing competition in school and hadn’t registered for it; thinking myself incapable of winning. When I went home and told my mom about it, I was on the receiving end of a lecture from her which I still remember. ‘It’s the participation that matters’, she had said. The next day I registered for it and went on to win second place.

Now you might say that I’ve done good things too. Everyone has. No one can be just bad, or just good. So what exactly am I trying to say?

What I am trying to put across is that my conscience is my greatest enemy (and my greatest hero). No one else can drive me like my conscience can. No one can affect me like I myself can.

It’s that inner voice of mine that deserves all the accolades and all the brickbats. Because no matter what anyone else says, it’s my inner voice that takes the final decision.

Hurdles, stumbling blocks, obstacles and hardships will come. But how do I know that they really are hardships? Because it’s my inner voice that has told me that. I am the only one who can decide whether a particular task is easy for me or not.

And so once back home, I mustered all courage and went up to the mirror. I stared in the eyes of the guy in the mirror and said, “Don’t stand in my sunshine”.

All he did was smile.