Thursday, June 22, 2017

Illness and Man

Some illnesses can make us feel totally helpless.  You just can’t do anything except lie down and suffer.  The viral fever that kept me bedridden for a few days is one such illness.  I know there are worse things than a viral fever that can torture the very marrow of your bones. 

This is the first time in my life that a disease left me totally enervated.  This is the first time in my life that I slept for some sixty hours continuously except for the essential intervals in between.  The sleep was a balm for the tortured body.  The mind too sodden with the side effects of all sorts of tablets I shoved down my throat needed rest.

Eventually I fell in love with the rest.  I didn’t need sleep anymore.  I just needed to lie down and stretch the body lazily. The various pains had abated though every now and then a bout of cough would erupt pulling every nerve in your lower abdomen in a thousand opposing ways. 

Except for the coughs, I fell in love with the rest.  A lot of images flash through your mind as you lie in bed with eyes closed.  The follies and blunders you committed all along, how people reacted to them, the games some people played with you, and a whole lot of other things.  Your life appears before you like a flashback.  Not everything is clear.  There are mysteries.  One of the things I have never understood, without all this flashback also, is why I drew so much attention of so many people who played a lot of games with my life.  Maybe, some things are destined to remain mysterious.  Maybe, that’s how life is: people play games and their motives vary.  And people like me are sitting ducks.

I fell in love with the ease of my rest after my Rip Van Winkle sleep.  I wished to prolong that ease for ever, for eternity.  But I know that’s not part of human life.  I had to get up and get going.  However, I was pretty sure that my experience was a presage of how things would be in the last moments of our life.  A flashback, an intense awareness of self and a lot of realisation.  Ah, too late it would be!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

When I met Don Quixote

I was thrilled beyond my wits because it is not often that one stumbles upon Don Quixote. 

I greeted him with folded arms first, then shook hands with him before embracing him tight.  Really tight. So tight that he gasped and pushed me away.  “Real love does not display itself so smotheringly,” he managed to speak through the gasps.

I apologised profusely and explained that I couldn’t contain my excitement on seeing him this Sunday morning when the monsoon clouds deceitfully played hide-and-seek in God’s own country.

“Ah, gods and clouds!” He exclaimed. “Never trust either of them. They are part of the world’s madness.”

“You were the sanest, Don,” I could not suppress my admiration of the man who single-mindedly pursued his dreams. 

He laughed heartily.  “Where do you draw the line of sanity, my friend?” 

Millions of people dying of starvation when tonnes of food is wasted due to mismanagement or sheer callousness.  Is that sanity? He asked me.  The farmers who produce your food are committing suicide while those who do nothing but sit with fat account books eat the choicest food cooked by connoisseurs.  Sanity?  He mocked. You use gods to commit mass murders.  Sanity?  He went on to list a whole of sins, both cardinal and venial, that we keep committing while claiming to be protecting our gods and religion, our culture and national pride.

“Too practical, friend, too practical, that’s your madness,” he said like a preacher in the Sunday church.  “You have surrendered dreams. What is life without dreams?  Too prosaic. Too sane.  Too much sanity is madness.”

He compared me to the man who drove ahead at lightning speed on the highway following the high beam of the headlight.  Rushing endlessly on the highway as if some treasure awaited you there at the end of the highway.  Death is what awaits you there.  The real magic lies on the sides of the highway.  In the darkness.  The whispers in the leaves.  The ripples in the rivulets.  The sigh of the bud as it opens itself to the kiss of the butterfly.

“Not your fault, however,” he consoled me.  “When insanity is the rule, butterflies find their shelter in museums.”

Friday, June 16, 2017


I am not superstitious.  Like Groucho Marx, I know that if a black cat crosses my path it means that the cat is going somewhere and has nothing to do with me except that it happened to cross my path.  Usually it is better that the cat happened to cross my path than a human being, especially human beings with staunch religious affiliations.  I am more likely to be killed by a gau bhakt today than a cat.  

Marx becoming Marks! God!!
Superstition is born out of cowardice and irresponsibility.  You are afraid of, say, water.  But you have to cross the river and there’s no other choice.  You get into the boat with fear in your knees.  Your knees tremble.  Your knees wobble.  The boat takes on your trembling.  Trembling is contagious.  Like a disease.  It spreads.  And the boat succumbs.  It capsizes, let us say.  You are saved, let us hope.  And then you blame the cat.  Because you don’t want to accept that you peed in your trousers.  The cat that crossed your path while you were on your way to the river becomes a poor scapegoat. 

Superstition is all about creating scapegoats.

It can also be about creating frauds who will claim to heal you by invoking gods.  It can also be about politicians who will rid the country of cats.  The politicians may even create a holy cat if that can win them votes.  And your ego can go on a hot air balloon trip.  The cat that crossed your path has become something not to be feared but to be worshipped.  Cat becomes holy.  Cat becomes vote catcher.  Cat becomes theology.  Cat’s piss becomes Ayurvedic cure.

PS. Written for Indispire Edition 174: #Superstitionandyou

Illness and Man

Some illnesses can make us feel totally helpless.   You just can’t do anything except lie down and suffer.   The viral fever that ke...