What is mine?

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What is mine?

 

The clothes that I wear,

A weaver weaves.

The food that I eat,

A farmer grows.

The shoes that protect my feet,

A cobbler mends.

The house that I live in,

A labourer builds.

The knowledge that I acquire,

A teacher teaches.

 

If these aren’t mine,

What is mine?

 

The things that I do,

My thoughts decide;

But the thoughts that I bear,

My surroundings provide

 

If thoughts aren’t mine,

What is mine?

 

 Happiness-

With friends I rejoice.

Grief-

With mother I share.

Anger-

On people I yell.

Fear-

In father I derive strength.

 

If emotions aren’t mine,

What is mine?

 

Only when,

People and nature that surround me,

Live in harmony,

Can I really be me.

 

What is mine?

 

Only when,

The farmers who feed me and toilers who comfort me,

Live in dignity,

Can I really be me.

 

Only when,

The boundaries separating

The poor and rich, strong and weak,

Men and women, Black and white,

Are broken,

Can I really be me.

 

If there’s something that’s mine,

It’s joining the fight for harmony, dignity and equality is what I opine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Towel that changed it all!

People who know me have been noticing something very strange about me these days- I have been wearing a towel over my shoulders wherever I go to. People who don’t know me have been staring at me in bewilderment. For, I work in one of the leading IT firms, and the towel doesn’t go too well with the so called professional clothes. “Why are you wearing that towel? You look like a labourer,” exclaimed one of my friends. “Am I not one?” I retorted. During my brief tryst with the IT industry and an equally long duration as an activist, I’ve come to terms with reality!

Yes, IT employees are paid handsomely. But, compared to whom? The IT bubble had burst, and so have the lifestyles of thousands of IT professionals. When I was about to join my undergraduation, getting an IT job is a dream come true for many. However, the entire scenario changed within a very short span. Towards the end of my undergraduation itself, I could notice a difference in dreams and attitudes of most of my peers. Most of them didn’t want an IT job. Some of them preferred the higher paying jobs in the public sector to these apparently affluent IT jobs. Couple of them were left with no other choice.

Now, putting aside the fact that some jobs in the public sector are strikingly higher paying than those in the IT industry, there are several other factors that make the life of an IT employee relatively difficult. I said relatively difficult because I understand that the problems of an IT employee are trivial as against those faced by the quarter million farmers who’ve committed suicide, probably another quarter million of them contemplating suicide, those millions living in abject poverty (even according to the Planning Commission’s lowered limit) etc. Still, the problems faced by an IT employee are significant in their own sense, especially given the common social perception that an IT employee belongs to the elite of the society, both socially and economically.

We are some of the most exploited people, being paid peanuts compared to what the company earns for the work we do and for the number of additional hours of work we put in without even being paid for working overtime. We are set some targets, made to slog to achieve them with the fear of not getting an encouraging pay hike during the appraisals, and are under the constant threat of being fired for being unable to meet the employer’s expectations. One of my friends had been working even during the weekends for the past couple of months, which easily makes his total working hours per week more than the regular weekly working hours. The mental agony caused is best understood by many other such people who’ve been toiling day in and day out, and probably not by most people around us who still believe that we lead a rosy life! There’s another acquaintance of mine who’d recently lost his job despite being awarded the best employee, and still, there are no questions to be asked! If you are still not convinced, realize that there are thousands in various IT destinations who work for a meagre five thousand rupees every month, whilst Wahid, a cab driver I’d recently interacted with, Manga, our maid, Raju, a small tea shop owner in my neighborhood, and Mustafa, the owner of a small departmental store, all earn more than some of my brothers and sisters working in the IT industry! It’s not to belittle them or their livelihood, but just to make people around us realize that we’re no different.

It’s time for a change folks- in the way our surroundings see us, and in the way we see our surroundings! We’re not affluent, we’re just ordinary middle class people. We don’t flaunt our wealth, we haven’t got much to do so. We don’t lead a rosy life, we don’t have one. All we can boast of is probably the comforts of air conditioning (which are again intended for the computers and not for us). Probably, it’s time all of us wear towels, if that’s what changes people’s perception about us and our perception about ourselves. Or probably, it’s time we too have unions- to demand our rightful share and fight for our rights.

For a Bright New Dawn

For a Bright New Dawn

At the crossroads I stood,

looking at the world around.

To the right were the lush green fields,

fenced with wooden sticks and thick barbed wire;

Men and women were working hard,

reaping the harvest of their labour.

They put the yield in numerous bags,

and carried them on their half bent backs.

I followed them, with intent,

till they put the grains in their landlords tent.

I walked back,

to find myself again at the crossroads.

Then to the left, I saw,

few men and women with a sickle and a plough.

They were working hard too,

tilling the dry red soil,

and removing the trenches of stone.

The land was barren, large, and open.

Perplexed I was, as I walked up to them.

I didn’t know why I went to those dry lands-

was it to help them or to sympathize with them?

Sunddenly, a man came to me and said,

“We’re struggling my son, to cultivate this barren land,

to make it green, and share the yield.”

I stood there for a while, with thoughts wandering-

Which way do I go?

To the left or to the right?

What do I do?

Waste my labour to feed my landlord, or use the same to share with people?

It was night, and I still stood there-

thinking about what’s right (to be done)

and what’s left (to be done).

Finally decided, I joined the struggle-

to make the arid arable.

To create an open land with no fences thereon,

I decided to work there all night to see a bright new dawn.

Only to Die Are We Living

I look at those tall concrete jungles;

some big, some large, and some just larger.

Oh God! Where do I find a tiled roof for my shelter?

I look at those monstrous creatures that can’t fly,

brawling amongst themselves for a bucket of water.

Oh God! Why am I too weak to fight for a drop to quench my thirst?

I look at those big round drums that hang on to some giant metallic towers,

excreting a weird buzz that trembles my feathers.

Oh God! Why don’t I have the privilege to fly like my grandparents, in those years?

I look at those monsters that can’t fly,

eat in packets, processed and refined.

Oh God! Where do I search to get some grains to dine?

My mother died, father died;

Brother, sister and friends expired.

But, somewhere, somehow, a sparrow like me survived,

With no water left in my puny body,

to even perspire at the Sun God’s fury;

With no energy left in my half-dead remains,

to endure without my food- the husk of those grains.

But, somewhere, somehow, a sparrow like me is suffering,

Starved and threatened, and only to die are we living.

A Dream, called ABHIYANTA

To dream about a world beyond the realms of tangibility is one thing; to make those dreams come true is another. And when few such dreamers come together to walk on a common path, the dream becomes a vision, and when they face all challenges, and overcome all obstacles, the vision becomes reality!

If there are some feelings beyond expression, and some expressions beyond imagination, then this is one of them. The memorable journey of making our dream called ‘Abhiyanta’ a reality was an enriching experience to say the least.

‘Abhiyanta’ was a national level technical symposium organized by the students of the Department of EEE, GVPCOE. Apart from the conventional events, we have come up with a new event called ‘Colloquium’, a discussion forum on alternative sources of energy. And through this journey, the latent talents of budding engineers have been brought to light.

I must confess that the taste of success was nevertheless without hindrances and setbacks. At one point, our dream was almost shattered asunder. It was the grit, determination and perseverance of a few of us that made the impossible possible. We learnt how to move from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm, the definition of team from a fourth dimension, and our relationship with our peers underwent a colossal transformation. Leaders were born, creativity was excavated, and patience and endurance were imbibed. What had thus begun as a dream of few is now a reality in the eyes of many.

Throughout the freezing nights of December,

With blazing hearts in peak winter,

Working through the daylight,

And after those long sleepless nights,

We celebrated innovation, we celebrated engineering. We celebrated ABHIYANTA!

For want of Love…

It’s simple. It’s straight. It’s for want of love.

And yea, it’s also my first short story…

 

For want of Love…

 

“Arjun…Arjun…” I could hear somebody, in the softest of voices whisper. I turned around, with a great effort, but soon feel asleep. I had minimum energy, for it has been over a week since I ate something. I had been repeatedly haunted by such voices ringing all over the room. I was in utter chaos- lost and desolate.

I had locked myself up in complete darkness, in a room on the terrace. It had only one single door, and a small ventilator, beyond the reach of any ordinary man. Every morning, with sun rays penetrating through the tiny ventilator, came pain and suffering. I resorted to punching the wall hard, or breaking the completed bottles of whiskey to get rid of my frustration.

It had been a week. I hadn’t talked to a human, hadn’t seen one either. My only friend was the over-grown rat which sometimes even bit the dirty rags I was in. Then there were some acquaintances in mosquitoes, flies, and some insects I don’t even know the names of which. The only solace I found was in the trays of whiskey bottles I had brought in before a week, and the cocaine packets I managed to sneak in from the panwallah down street. I wasn’t like this from birth. Circumstances changed me. They ruined me. As a child, I was curious. As a teenager, I was a maverick. But it’s just before a week that I had become like this. My life has changed. My life has been ruined.

It was not my concern then, for I had more than half a hundred bottles of whiskey, despite the fact that I was running out of cocaine. That day, I became restless. With the minimal energy I possessed, I stood up, with the help of a long unused rocking chair. I wasn’t standing still, I was drowsy. My eyes were automatically shutting down, but I was determined that day to see the end of the mosquitoes that have been troubling me since long. In my futile attempt, unknowingly, I had stamped the broken pieces of glass. It hurt, it pained, but nothing seemed more severe than the injury I was inflicted upon a week ago.

I tried to ignore the wound, but it hurt me more. The blood didn’t clot; it had been bleeding for more than an hour. I fell down, to the ground, unable to pick myself up again. I tore my shirt, and tried to tie it around the wound, but it was of no use, as the wound just got worse. I shouted loud, as loud as I could. It was fruitless for I didn’t have the sufficient energy to make it heard. I pulled my leg towards myself, and hit it hard. I tried and tried, to overcome the pain, each attempt going in vain. I closed my eyes, and gathered my senses. It was after a week’s time that I had first done so. I pulled myself up, dusted myself off. I stood on my knees, searching for help. I was frustrated, I wished someone was there, with me, to help me and support me.

I then recalled, a friend of mine, had sat by my side, and offered me a piece of advice. He said he’d be there by my side, wheresoever I may need him. I then said I’d be fine, and wanted to be left alone. It was on the same day that I had locked myself up in the room. It was the last day I had seen a human, I’ve talked to someone.

I cursed my fate; I wished I had listened to him then. It became unbearable. I wished I’d better die. I bent, stretched, and reached out for a small piece of glass I could spot. I grabbed it, and with its help, split the nerves of my left wrist. It started bleeding, yet again. The pain and suffering re began. I wanted to die, but here I was moaning a painful cry. Vexed all the more, I thought it’s useless. I wanted to live, healthier than before and happier than ever.

Just then, an old iron rod fell down from the attic. Was I to thank God? Or was I to thank my friend, the rat for rattling the rod all along? I got hold of it, and managed to stand stiff, on my feet. I limped ahead, but the pain was not letting me move. I felt back onto my knees. Determined, I was, I crawled my way to the door, and had successfully opened it.

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t open my eyes for a while. The glare was hitting upon my eyes, directly, after a week in total darkness. I covered my eyes with my hand, and continued crawling. I dragged myself down the steps, and soon came down. The house was familiar to me, the dogs were familiar too. They didn’t bark at me as they usually do. I wriggled forward, not knowing where to go. Everything seemed weird- The roads, the people, the traffic, the sun, and, the desire to live. Only a week ago, I lost all hopes. I wanted to die, but without the courage for which, I ruined myself. After a few paces, I stopped. I couldn’t go further. I was drained out. My eyes shut down. I became helpless.

Something pierced into my hand, and I opened my eyes. The vision was still blurred, but I could make out where I was. I was in a hospital, well taken care of. Soon, things appeared clearer. The first person, I remember, having seen was an old lady, with moist, red eyes, probably in her late seventies. She got up, limped forward, and after a few moments, came in with the doctor.

I looked puzzled, and the doctor must’ve realized this. “Don’t worry. You’re alright,” she said. The voice sounded like a chime. It was the first voice I’ve heard after a week’s time. It’s the sweetest mankind would’ve ever heard of. I slowly got up, fell down on the old lady’s feet and thanked her. I cried, and cried.

Who was that lady? She couldn’t hear, she couldn’t speak, and she could barely see. She neither knew me nor my parents. Still bent on my knees, and touching her feet, I cried. I realized that day that love never perishes. It passed from my girl who had betrayed me to this lady, whom I had begun to love more than anyone else in my life. Yes, love never perishes. It just changes its form. Similarly, man shouldn’t perish for the want of love. Mankind perishes only when humanity does.

Straight, Crooked and Bent …

I was inspired by an incident which took place 3 years ago. With slight modifications, I’ve come up with the present post. Read and respond.

 

Straight, Crooked and Bent … 

 

One boy, and two girls- all about three feet tall, and four years old, sat under a tree at around five in the evening. They played for a while, talked for a while, and I was glued to them all the while. Boys and girls- it’s always interesting. It’s fun, exciting and adventurous. Fun to talk, exciting to feel and it turns out to be adventurous once the villainy adults come to know. Their faces became anxious, the atmosphere became tense. The sun had by now dozed off, and darkness started to creep in. I had to strain my eyes to understand what exactly was going on. “It’s worth it,” I thought, for it was something related to boys and girls. Suddenly, a girl, dressed in bright orange stood up, and walked a few paces ahead. She then turned back and offered her hand to the boy, only to be rejected. She walked away in disdain. The boy moved closer to the other girl, and put his arm around her waist. She seemed to like it, for she did the same too. “Oh my God!!! OOH MY GAWD!!! He’s doing it,” I thought, shock and jealousy carried in every drop of my blood, from the brain, back to the heart.

 He just did what I couldn’t do in two decades on this earth. Dumbstruck by the envious sight, I cursed the gods- Ram, Allah and Jesus. Years have rolled by, yet I was unsuccessful.

It was in class one, I remember. I sat beside a girl called Zubaina. She was fair and friendly and what else could I ask for at such an age? I loved her a lot. So much that I had given her all the chocolates my father had bought. We played in lunch break, and ate that corner bakery’s plum cake. She introduced me to her brother, three years elder and ten times stronger. I started loving her more and more until I was promoted to class four.

Then came Marsha, the first girl I had to fight for. She sat behind me, and beside a very good friend of mine. I still remember vividly. He called me and asked me to turn around, and I saw him dropping an eraser on to the ground. He bent down, and I followed him too. He kissed her leg, leaving me spellbound. I got up with envy, and considered him my enemy. It then took me four years to fall in love again.

I was in class eight, dressed in trousers for the first time to school. I bought a fancy bag, bought a new watch too. I rated all the girls, and put them in a preferential queue. I used to stare at a girl, in the class diagonal to ours, heedless of the class and wasting long hours. She was short and sweet, fair and neat. She called me one day, I don’t know why. I was enthused and enticed, and started loving her right from that night. I remember. I went out with her and ate a cheese and chicken burger. I talked to her daily, until one day, she left the school, making me feel very lonely.

One fine day, when the sun shone gay, I spotted a girl, walking beside me in the narrow pathway. My stomach did a back flip and I caught hold of my heart, making sure it didn’t slip. I followed her daily, and loved her heartily. I gathered all my courage, and decided to propose her for marriage. It was my sixteenth birthday, and the most unique in its own way. I was rejected, and left behind, all for myself. She already had one- A dirty looking fat one, with a nose resembling a rusty old gun. I was depressed and deprived, passionate and desperate.

Each time I tried, I failed. I fought back and I was still unsuccessful. Each defeat instilled a new spirit in me. But this was something I couldn’t digest at all. I felt like a loser, failing forever and ever. My hopes have died, and the castles I’ve built in air have crashed. I wiped the tears that have rolled down my cheeks, and turned around to at least appreciate the kid’s fortune.

They were still like that, unwilling to get up. Slowly, he bent forward, and put his head in her lap, and she caught hold of his hair and pulled it hard. He struggled for a while, and finally stood up. With the polio ridden girl in his arms, and the crutches in her tiny hands, he walked back home.  I smiled at myself and stood silent for a while…Well, what did I think he just did?