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RUNNING DOWN TILL SUNDOWN

CLAUSTROPHOBIC AMUSEMENTS

I remember a certain sun-soaked night,

Where I was happy.

I knew of a world of joy,

A world of harmony.

 

That was but a fantasy I suppose,

A sight from above the walls I’d built around me.

I craved for those joys sometimes,

An urge to climb these walls, just to feel the breeze.

 

To feel the air of companionship,

The bounties of making acquaintances.

But all I found was gloom,

All I could smell was but a stench of vindication and doom.

 

I am scared of what lies beyond these walls,

The people, their cold eyes, their gazes.

I built these walls for a reason,

The reason, the very people beyond the climb.

 

I’d like to meet them sometime,

When I am well enough for disappointments again.

Until then I fear the light that I thus see,

For having been pushed too far, I made a home;

Here amidst the sullen darkness.

 

For they seldom knew or cared to know,

And the ones that did, momentarily walked away.

Too hard to explain, too hard to understand,

Is this pain I am in, I lie here on this cold floor;

Distraught.

 

I bled my heart and soul in their pages,

I poured myself into their memoirs, filled those empty lines.

When my walls tore down, and I lay bare;

They simply turned those pages around,

Carelessly.

 

My eyes burn, here in this halo of agony,

I wish to be alone now, away from company.

Forgive me for my sadness, apologies for being so morose,

I gave up on society long ago, now I am;

Void. Vacant. Alone.

 

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FEEDING FEARS

“Are you an atheist? Man, so you guys don’t believe in anything?”

If you are an atheist, it is highly unlikely that you haven’t come across this ‘profound’ question at least once a day. Such is the appalling disbelief among people that they find  it hard to digest the idea of this presumed ‘nothing’. Just because I don’t find the need to look up to the skies and chant hymns in the hope of a miracle doesn’t necessarily suggest that I have nothing to look forward to. It is quite the opposite, I do have certain beliefs and ideas; it is just that I don’t find them in fabrications of yore. I am aware of the blasphemy I am spewing at the Lord and his wrath might befall me; I’ll take my chances.

Let me premise by stating that I have no qualms towards people of belief. Most of whom I have met have been interesting and profound in every way. My parents, my friends and many such chance acquaintances have not only engaged in passionate debates but also helped me in having an alternate viewpoint. I don’t have any such issues with the millions that do believe. It has not appealed to me and that is that. My problem lies with the people who cannot stand the alternate viewpoint, the people who simply cannot understand the atheist voice. Solely based on the fact that it contradicts, with valid proofs, the existence of an overlord in the heavens. The atheist movements since the dawn of reason have been met with an iron fist. In that, such thoughts and ideas have been bound and curtailed to even consider interaction with the world. In  principle, the thought of having faith or believing in some fantastic delusion is nothing but preposterous to the wonder that is nature. The fact that it is okay to believe in the teachings of a saint, prophet or ‘teacher’ who may or may not have existed long ago is nothing but amazing. The fall of reason and the acceptance of ignorance purely on the fact that ‘we have been told so’ is not the ideal we must imbibe in the generations to come.

The reasoning here is simple. If a child were to be born into a family where the idea of religion, God and supernatural beings (angels, demons, spirits and the like) were absent; it is highly unlikely that such an epidemic would spread. Most of our religious ideals and pseudo-morality arises from the fact that ‘we have been told so’. If one were to remove the factor of God, there would be an absence of such intellectual turmoil. The absence of a religion in its essence is nothing but a pursuit of reason and truth. In the core readings of most religious texts, keeping aside the ones that promulgate religious authoritarianism, is open to interpretations. Just because we have been taught and urged to think of these texts in a particular manner  we fear and love God in all his glory.

Being an atheist in India is close to dangerous. Though there are many rationalists who are out there fighting a losing fight, there are many who remain closeted. For reasons ranging from fear of retribution by the religious groups, family and society at large, we prefer to keep our principles hidden for this illusion of ‘peace’. Is it really peaceful when a part of the society feels stifled to start a conversation against a mammoth like religion? Though there have been million attempts, they are all but futile considering the fact that religion is an epidemic that has gripped the jugular of the Indian societal fabric. Doubt, skepticism or curiosity of any sort, is essentially claimed to be detrimental to the ‘Indian lifestyle’. Are we that feeble a culture? Are we so pathetically weak that the whole existence of such a vibrant civilisation such as ours would crumble? These are but rhetoric and we (atheists) as a community have been living in rhetoric collecting dust.

These are troubling times in India. Though we are surging ahead globally in recognition and significance as an economic force, we are stuck in the rut of conservatism and dogma. Like most parts of the world we are under the throes of god-men and wannabe god-women alike. We are surely a victim of ignorance and we seem to have no shame in emphatically embracing it at times. The common grievance being that atheists as a community have no regard for the good work that these various missionaries promote and carry out. Well though I am certain of these goodwill hunts that they chance upon, these missionaries have surely been vital at times. But that does not erase the pandemonium and ruckus that is created in the name of religion and its leaders. One does not find relief over a piece of cloth when one’s house burns down in its place. These ignorant misgivings has been and will continue to be the failings of a gullible mind. Humans love to play the victim and the love for an all-conquering being is nothing but our attempt as mortals to look for an anchor in crisis.

There is hope in the fact that there are still many like me. There are many who doubt and question the nature of religion and its teachings. People who ask too much and that is what we must strive for. There is always a tangible reasons in the ‘miracles’ of this universe and our capacity as a species should not be credited to some fantasy or propaganda.

May God help you in your path towards godlessness.

 

CRAVING THE PAIN

I remember walking down an old country road, not too long ago. I know that ‘country road’ is a fashionable word but well none seemed fancier to use here. I remember walking and constantly having flashes of you. Like a mirage on a heated desert or some form of an apparition. I wondered why this was happening and checked myself before moving ahead. I am not the kind to believe in ghosts and such but I remember being sad on that night. I maybe had a little too much to drink and I must admit I was rather stumbling down that country road. As I walked ahead I saw you again, this time the vision lasted longer. You simply stood there at the end of that road and smiled. I have always loved your smile and that was most definitely you. In that drunken stupor I rushed towards the vision, it was still there waiting for me. Just as I hoped to hold you and fall into your arms, you vanished into the shadow of the night. I remember being slouched on that street, I began to choke up. I guess a drink too many does make you emotional. I remember sitting in silence and feeling the breeze hit my skin, yet I felt so empty. The dark winding street, the barred windows and closed curtains just sunk me deeper and deeper into sadness.

It was then that I began to wonder.

We are all looking for someone who understands us, someone who knows us in ways that we could never fathom ourselves. The kind of people who would know what your next train of thought would be without even uttering a word. Someone who would just know how overrated you thought maple syrup was and never quiet understood what all the fuss was about. The truth of the matter is such cravings can be so dangerously superficial. The fact that there exists such a messiah in this world and they would someday clasp your arm and take you to Neverland. But there is something poetic about that hope. The fact that we as a people tend to constantly and unequivocally fall back into the trend of blindly believing that there is such a person out there for us. Maybe there is, maybe it is all an illusion and what it all means is that our search is truly eternal. Maybe at the end of that expedition, all you realise is that what you were looking for was nothing but a manifestation of yourself. Maybe it was all you, all this while; cooking up stories of some fallacy that you spent your youth searching. There you are, senile and sullen; wishing you’d known better.

But just as I fall into that awful nihilist attitude of perennial pointlessness, there are moments where I believe that maybe it is isn’t really about finding anyone. Maybe we got it wrong all this while. Maybe what is really left is the pain, the hollowness and the gut-wrenching agony of spite. Maybe it is the tears that you shed at the sight of that special someone, maybe it is the knowledge that they have moved on. Maybe it is the fact that we as a species crave and attract pain; just like love it is one of the purest form of emotion that anyone can experience. Just as we hustle our way through life, swiping right and left at that god-awful technology of impersonal camaraderie through our phones; we mustn’t forget that maybe we crave the love and the agony just as much. What is life is left without passion? When your time comes, that senile and sullen old face should have been broken a million times. Maybe that is the true testament of a life lived.

THE RAVEN AND THE NIGHTINGALE

 

I was once under a yew tree,

Minding my own business, lost in thought.

It was quiet cold, I remember;

My cloak would not keep me warm.

 

As I sat there, in that comfortable silence,

I was thus interrupted by the chirp not far away.

She would not stop, she would not wait;

Incessantly she chirped my time away.

 

“Why must you chirp so gleefully?” I exclaimed;

“Can’t you see I wish to peacefully stay?”

“Let me be, leave me in peace,

Find another suitor for your joyous symphony.”

 

“I sought you out my dear”, said the Nightingale;

“I see you repose wistfully here.”

“Why must you be so gloomy and tired?” asked the Nightingale;

“Why must you come here and shed a tear?”

 

I opened my heart to the Nightingale,

I know not why but I did.

I spoke to her of my travails,

I spoke of the insanity when amidst the people I’d stray.

 

“Men are worrisome as worry goes”, said the Nightingale;

“They know not how to live in peace.”

“Constant pain, constant agony;

Or constant cheer and shameful blasphemy”.

 

“The world hath thus been made bountiful,

But you doth lie waste in disdainful reverie.

Why must you be so gloomy? Why must you wail?

If I were but human, I’d be ecstatic in your company.”

 

As I began my rebuttal, I was momentarily interrupted;

A scoff I heard from among the branches near.

A raven dark and gloomy stood,

In the silence, he misspoke a rebuke.

 

“You play the trumpets of joy, my friend”, said the Raven,

“I am but a messenger of doom.

I see no point in such joyous reverie,

Each life thus bludgeoned by memories.

 

“Aren’t memories but beautiful my friend?”

I asked the Raven atop the tree.

“My dear, memories poison the heart,

Aches our soul as you remember the loved ones of yore.”

 

“The solace that memories doth give is lost in such penury,

The illusions of love and lust, such fleeting misery.

All of life lay waste, barren and desolate,

Why must we thus celebrate such a pointless journey?”

 

The Nightingale cackled in disapproval,

“My dear, you are so morose, a victim of circumstances.

The world is but innately beautiful, yet you are so unfathomably sad.

You are but afraid of life, for having been served some bad apples,

If life must be so pointless, all of life must’ve faded years before.”

 

An argument thus ensued, I could not speak;

I wanted some silence, my thoughts wished for peace.

I begged them to stop, I pleaded them to forbear,

They went on to speak of life, in words I could not stand.

 

That night I shot a raven,

That night I skinned the ‘gale.

Since then I am but numb,

No reason I see, no joy I feel;

An emptiness better left untouched and unexplained.

COME AWAY

Will you come away with me?

Leave the world and its sorrows behind.

We can maybe stay awhile,

In blissful silences and quiet ruminations such.

 

Let us forget our past, our present and the harrowing future,

Let us for once be nothing, be sublime.

Truth be told, I have lost touch with myself,

I am without much musings as such.

 

Let’s walk along the stormy beaches,

Our love waging wars like the ones of yesteryear Normandy.

Let’s drift away here by the sea,

Like the sand upon these withering breeze.

 

I have been calling out since,

Since the last time I visited our home.

My soul, wherefore have you gone?

My heart calls out, she bleeds for you.

 

I look upon the stars in search,

I look far and wide, beyond realms I suppose.

I could not find you my dear, wherefore have you gone?

Come back my soul, I am tired now and my eyes are waning;

The dusk is close, sleep awaits, come home and keep me warm.

ON THE SILK ROUTE

I set my sights upon the hills of Eurasia,

The mighty mountains amidst the clouds.

I see man strolling with their mules,

With spices and cloth and things sublime.

 

The paths treacherous and unwinding I find,

Set across the halls of Chang’an-Tianshan.

I see footprints of great explorers,

Sifting across the sands of time.

 

Many a traveller do set foot,

Upon a journey so magnificently unruly.

The weather a foe, the beats run wild,

For the sake of pots of gold, footsteps they do hold.

 

I see mules hounded by burden,

Of cloaks of satin and fur-lined boots.

I see travellers from the world over,

Selling goods the ether world never saw before.

 

Many an explorer have trudge along this path,

Memoirs a million told of its travails.

The howling winds betwixt the dunes that passed,

Of creatures that maimed and hunted on these roads.

 

My horses are weak, legs sore and rickety,

They waddle about in a daze as saddles doth droop away.

I must await for my mouth is parched in the sun,

Overcome am I, uncertain mirages abound.

 

I seek for water thus,

In a land so barren of life.

In moments sublime I seek for a soul,

Forbear I must, as I lose all hope.

 

I plunge to the hard ground,

The rocks hot and steamy like the gates of Hell.

I dream of the courts of the Kublai,

Of riches and gold upon the horizon set.

 

I see statues made of gold,

Streets so magnificently laden with emerald stones.

I see palaces as majestic as the Temple of Solomon,

I see ungodly feats of men, made of just sticks and stones.

 

Unfathomable glory I do see,

My eyes shed tears I awe of the glory.

As the sun sets, I sit in repose,

Thinking of a world I’d never set foot upon.

 

In words of immortal ink I thus pen,

Upon this papyrus sheet.

 

Of times I thus besought and searched,

Of a world beyond any mortal reach.

A world that lay untold and unexplored,

A world of my imagination, a figment of an idyllic dream.

 

My flask lay bear and I am defeated,

On these blessed paths in sands of gold.

Of many a stories to come, I stop,

I lay hear looking at the stars,

I dream of many fables lay untold.

 

Farewell sweet souls that wander thus,

I lay upon these grounds tattered, like soldiers mauled by Mongolian lords.

The horses have fled to the far side of the mountains,

In my demise, I dream of the palaces of the Khan.

 

 

ROOFTOP RENDEZVOUS

I see him lying there in repose,

Robes of white satin wrapped around him.

He lays there motionless and pale,

My brother is silent, calm as he begins his end.

 

I don’t remember much about that eventful night,

I remember the pandemonium that did ensue.

I remember the blaring horns and flashing headlights,

The still darkness and the bang crash boom. The pit of silence.

 

I do remember the next morning,

The blank white walls of the hospital room.

The tubes that run through my veins

The eerie hustle, hushed cries down the corridor. The searing pain.

 

My mother sits in a stupor, staring out the window,

I see tears in my father’s eyes, for the first time.

I look around, in a daze, I look around for my brother,

In silent consolation my father looks away.

In a harrowing reality, my brother had but walked away.

 

Now I am in a state of numb disbelief,

By his cold, pale body, I look at his face waiting for a smile.

I hear the silence in my mother’s heart, the wails of my father,

I see the blankness in these walls again, a sight once so bright.

 

His room still smells of him, I still feel him around me,

The bed still warm as his cold body lays in the other.

I hear his laughter mocking me as if some kind of a bad joke,

There is nothing that slowly shatters my heart into pieces than this, here.

 

Memories of him, keep scratching at the nape,

I shrug it off as it tightens its grip around my neck.

I see him as we ride down the alleys, in laughter and smiles,

I see him hold my hand as we cross the busy streets again.

 

I see my sweet brother, as we sit on the rooftop,

In the middle of the night talking and smoking our lungs.

I think of him as I turn each corner of the house,

I see him bespectacled, reading a book of a same name.

 

Now I sit on the rooftop, lighting up that cigarette,

This time I am here all by myself.

As the procession walks away, the pyre turns to smoke,

He is now resting in memories, he now haunts these four walls in the dark.

 

Reminiscence of times thus passed, years will roll down,

We get used to not having them around.

But at night when I come on the rooftop, I will think of him,

I will think of his eyes, his last night, the flashing headlights,

For in that moment I hope to wake up,

I hope to walk to his room to see him reading that book of a same name.

AND THE WATERS TURNED RED

There are corpses on cornfields,

The sky grim and swallowed by smoke.

The city has thus fallen,

Men lie dead and women wail aloud.

 

There are swarms of children on the dusty streets,

Let abandoned, lonely and motherless.

Beneath the shadow of grief and mourning,

No teat to suckle, just incessant yearning.

 

They rained down upon them,

Like castles falling out of the sky.

Their eyes covered in blood-clumping gravel,

The taste of napalm amidst the morning sun.

 

I see homes abandonment and crumbling,

A sanctum of merriment that it once was.

The flags of our fathers perched high,

As sheep they were slaughtered, benign.

 

A fool’s general raid upon them,

March on these bodies that lay dead.

Where are your Gods, your religion, your creed?

What more are you but children of greed?

 

Obey orders we must you say,

The glory of the Motherland lay waste.

Countless families broken and brothers at war,

Is this the war your Motherland besought?

 

I see rivers turn red,

Skies and clouds turn black and gray.

I see no dirt, no mud, but limbs astray,

I see no power in these petulant misgivings.

 

All wars thus fought, I look back,

For borders and men that lay stale.

Each limb torn, hearts broken and faces pale,

Mother Earth does cry, as these mothers cry for you.

 

PITFALLS

“There is no happiness to life”, she said,

Her arms flailing in the air.

The thought of living didn’t please her,

The idea of going through another day, unsatisfying.

 

The joy of living has thus become a chore,

Moments fleet by without interruption.

She but stands still as the world moves by,

People in wholesome laughter and chatter.

 

She is but untouched by these fleeting illusions,

Yes, happiness is one such fleeting illusions.

Moments so far back in memory,

She struggles to remember, the last time she was truly happy.

 

She wanted to feel all these things,

The shortcomings of life, these simple pleasures.

No one ever seeks to live a life so tortured,

So marred by sadness and unwarranted pain.

 

“I want to feel the breeze”, she said,

“I want to feel the wind crash against the contours of my skin.

Feel the joy of thus being alive.”

But she looked down at her hands, the scars left behind,

Drove her to tears.

 

She quietly retreated to her solemn life,

She returned to the gutters of routine, the sewers of chore.

Maybe happiness is overrated,

Maybe happiness is nothing but distractions to the misery that is life.

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