Tuesday, April 26, 2016

From a horrible son to a loving mother

You don't know how painful it is when you disconnect my calls every day – day after day. I know it isn’t easy for you too but I fail to understand why you are doing this. And me, being me, will not reach out when I feel you are being illogical, even if it is you on the other end.

Sometimes I think the problem is with me. I should bow down to your decision and let you decide who I should spend my life with. But then I ask myself, “Why? What is wrong with the girl you have chosen? Why is it OK to let someone else decide whether she is good enough for you or not?” And I have no answer to these questions.

You keep telling me that you don't wish bad for me. And I know that. You would be the last person who would wish bad for me – mothers are like that. But that doesn't mean whatever you want me to do is the best way. There’s a difference between being good and being correct, and you are unable, rather unwilling, to understand the difference.

Then there are times when I think I shouldn't have been the ideal child from the start. I wonder if things would have turned out differently if I had been a rebellious kid and had thrown tantrums. But I knew, even then, that I should respect you and obey you. After all you are my mom and you have sacrificed so much for all of us. I know I owe you a lot but that doesn't mean I have no freedom of choice. When I was younger, I knew then that you are wiser and hence I should follow your decisions but that isn’t the case now. Agreed that you are still older than me – that's a gap no one can bridge – but that doesn't mean I can’t still take care of myself or that I can’t make my decisions for myself.

It hurts that you have been denying me the only thing I ever asked you for – the right to marry the person I love. For years, I’ve begged you to at least meet her for my sake but you refused to even think about meeting her before pronouncing your judgement that you didn’t like her. I see absolutely no reason for your refusal except for the fact that you wanted me to do just what you wished for and not considering what I wanted.

Frankly, I never understood the logic of arranged marriages. How can I decide whether I want to spend my entire life with someone else just by meeting her once? I agree that I would also know who her parents are, what her siblings do, where her fourth cousin on her mother’s side is working. But how can all that tell me whether I can live with that person or not?

Arranged marriages would have made sense earlier when a person of a particular caste did a particular job and his entire household was set up accordingly. In that case, it would have been very difficult for someone who has not grown up in that environment to adjust to it. Hence, it would have made sense to marry someone who has grown up in a similar environment. But that was a different age and a different time.

And if you are worried about relatives, how many of them came forward to help us when we needed them? Why should you, of all people, be scared of what they will have to say? I agree that your society still thinks the same way but mine doesn't. Moreover, what’s the advantage of an education which doesn’t liberate one from such foolish bonds.

I tried in vain to get you to come down and stay with me. You thought I want you to come to Bangalore so that I can force you to meet her. But that was never the case. In fact, she wasn't even in Bangalore when I asked you to come. I wanted you to see and experience the difference in our lives and understand how flimsy the excuses of caste and society are in a place where people who’ve spent years as neighbors wouldn’t recognize each-other on the street. But you wouldn’t listen to all that. And why would you? I cheated you out of your right to get me married by finding someone I love. And hence, I’ve broken your trust and can’t ever be trusted again, right?

I keep getting surprised by how you have nothing to talk to me about except for her. It is as if the entire world revolves around who I marry.

You will be glad to know that you've won. I’ve given up trying to get through to you. I’ve given up hope that I’ll ever have a happy life where my mom and my wife will stay together. I’ve given up hope that you will ever agree to meet your grandchildren. I also know that, on top of all this, everyone who hears of the story will irrevocably come to the conclusion that the son was a useless ungrateful bastard who didn’t listen to his mother.
But I’m willing to live with all this. Do you want to know why? It is because as long as I live, I’ll have the hope that you’ll come around.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


“There is a thin line between life and death… and it keeps getting thinner everyday.” With the advancement of life-support systems, the black-and-white of the living and the dead has been smudged with a lot of grey; we are daily pushing the limits of life. Conditions once considered indicative of death are now reversible. Proper help can revive, or at least stabilize, the most far gone cases. So, the same person who would be pronounced dead in a small town may be pronounced alive if taken to a good institute.

Ironically, the more improvements we make in the field of healthcare, the more difficult it gets to define the very basic foundation of healthcare: Life, and its opposite, Death. Death was earlier defined as the stopping of respiration but that got outdated by the introduction of ventilators and heart-lung machines. Death is now defined as the cessation of mental activities, for whatever reason it may be. It is also called brain death. But nowadays we have equipments that can keep a person far beyond our help lingering on to life by some feeble impulse of his brain. This is where euthanasia or ‘mercy killing’ comes into picture.

Only a few decades ago, mercy killing would have meant squishing an ant that was writhing in pain after tearing one of its legs but now, due to the advancement of technology, the same concept has to be applied to humans too.

Let’s face it, when a member of the family is in the hospital, the whole family is like in a limbo. Time is divided into visiting hours and non-visiting hours. If, on top of that, no one is sure whether the person is dead or alive or how long they will stay in the current state, it is even more difficult for the family. In that case, they can neither stay put nor move on. However cruel or heartless it may sound, I firmly believe that it is good for everyone if they are allowed to move on in such cases.

Moreover, if the patient himself is in terrible pain or discomfort with only a negligible chance of revival, is it not only human to try to relieve him of the suffering? How often have you said to yourself while reading about such cases – “It would have been better if he had died.” ? If we can’t deliver cure to a person why should we tie up our hands and sit silently listening to his cries of pain? It is an act of compassion, not brutality. Recently there was a case where a terminally ill patient travelled all the way from the UK to USA so that his son could pull the plug on him without it being a crime.

But there are lots of questions and lots of clarifications that will have to be addressed before any such thing can be implemented. Some of them being: Who will decide whether a person is dead or alive when even the doctors have not been able to agree on a definition of death and when the definition can be neutralized suddenly by another invention? Whose decision should it be to pull the plug when the time comes? Euthanasia can also lend itself to misuse very easily and there would have to be an extremely tight check so that no one is able to do so.

Despite all these drawbacks, euthanasia is a very humane concept and has been slowly gaining acceptance worldwide.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Random Ramblings

Staring up at the stars starts chains of thought that would surprise you if you caught yourself thinking of them. These are some of my thoughts while I was half-asleep on the bus journey from Manali to Delhi.

You know you are in a mountainous region when you can’t differentiate between a star and the light coming from a house at the top. We are supposed to have 3D eyes…i.e. we are supposed to be able to differentiate distances but still it is impossible to differentiate between these. Stars make us realize how insignificant we would be in front of a larger body. The stars - larger than the largest thing we can imagine, standing unimaginable distances apart from each-other – look so tiny to our eyes that our forefathers were able to imagine figures in the night sky, as if they were playing ‘Connect the Dots’ on a piece of paper. The astronomical sizes involved are just numbers to everyone, even to those who do these calculations everyday; no one ever could have possibly imagined the distance everyone knows as one lightyear, or even one lightsecond which itself in 3 lakh kilometers (again just a number). I remember it was something like 2,99,792 point something kilometers to be exact as I memorized it once upon a time to brag about it to my friends who, till then didn’t even know that light and sound also travel. Douglas Adams was right in Hitchhiker’s when he said that the most terrible torture invented was a machine (Total something something) that showed a person his place in the universe in proportion to his size. The sheer enormity would be enough to make you go mad. In fact, just 1 AU compared to the size of a person, if shown to scale, will be enough to make anyone go mad.

Why is it that we feel a vague sense of longing when we stare up at the stars or stare out to the sea? Is it the well-known restlessness that humans are famed to possess? Is it the mystery of the unknown and the unseen that beckons us? Or is it simply that we are so engrossed in our immediate surroundings that it takes an unchanging scene for us to realize that in this rapidly changing world there is a small part of us that yearns for stability? You suddenly start thinking about people and things that haven’t been around you in a long while. You remember the place that you grew up in, the field where you used to play with friends whom you have lost touch with. You think of the people you were close to once but have fallen out with now. You miss the sights and sounds that were a part of everyday life when you were young. You miss all those moments of life, all those small things that you never had really cared about.

This was when the bus started playing Om Shanti Om and my chain of thoughts got disturbed. :|

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shopping Travails

Today, I was at a cloth store buying a few clothes when I saw a girl smiling and waving at me from outside the shop. Now, it is never a good portent when you see a girl smiling and waving at you and you draw a blank when you try to remember who the hell she is and where you have seen her. This mischance was aggravated by the fact, as it turned out later, that she was alone.

I somehow managed to extract her name and the details of our last meeting by shadow-guessing. She concluded by saying that she had to buy some clothes and since I was doing the same we might as well do our shopping together. I, as a rule, do not go shopping with girls – something that used to make my ex pretty angry – but, having nothing to do (and as a way of punishing myself for forgetting people), I agreed. Before an hour was out, I was ruing this decision like anything.

These are some of the observations I made:

The first thing that irritated me was the continuous talking. Girls seem to have a more serious need for talking while shopping than that of breathing. Pretty soon she had overwhelmed me with all the information about every single friend that both of us seemed to have in common – a number which I drastically cut down when I realized that it would take me weeks to process all the data if I had acknowledged that I knew almost all of her friends. I counted at least five instances when she talked incessantly for more than 5 minutes without even glancing at the clothes that she was supposed to be buying.

Then comes the fact that nothing that the store had to offer seemed to match her expectations. If something was comfortable, it was either not fashionable enough or too fashionable by her standards. If something looked good, it was either too pricey to buy or too cheap to brag to her friends about. Every pair of jeans in the store was either too flashy or too plain.

It took her almost 2 hours and reviews of at least fifty pairs of jeans to zero in on 4 that she would try on (she had to buy only 1). Next came the trial phase (it took trials of my patience rather than the clothes).A sample excerpt of her discussion would be something like:

She: “Is it looking good on me? (This is something everybody asks, so no big deal.)
Me (hoping that she had made up her mind about this one): “Yeah…pretty good.”
She: “I guess that’s because I am wearing a light-colored shirt but most of my clothes are dark-colored. Would it go with a black top?”
Me (hoping against hope): “I guess so.”
She: “Should I tuck my shirt in? Will it look better that way?”
Me (trying to save time): “No, its OK.”
She (after spending 2 more minutes in tucking her shirt in): “Will a belt look good on this? Should I buy 1 to go along?”

By now, half of my mind was snoozing and the other half was telling me to run away from her sight as soon as possible and so I did not reply.

At the end of a very trying (pun unintended) hour she had come to a decision. That too mostly because I had told her that I would have to leave her alone because I had an important meeting. Then it turned out that the 25% discount that the store was showcasing was not applicable to The Chosen One. She bandied words with the salesman until I stepped in and promised her that I would take her to another store the next day so that she might get something she likes. The Chosen One was left lying at the counter when we departed – its destiny still in the shadows.

PS: I have absolutely no intentions of keeping my promise and I need a good excuse. PLEASE HELP!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dedicated to the person I love the most

I had never realized how much I needed her till that night. I called her up but the call was received by my neighbour who told me that she was gravely ill and had been admitted in the hospital with very low blood pressure. I had always taken her for granted, thinking – She’ll agree. I don’t need to ask her about this. What if she gets a little angry, I can always appease her...and similar things.

Someone once rightly said that you don’t know how important someone is to you unless they go out of your life. It was at that moment that I realized how much I had depended on her – for everything. A guy of my age generally considers himself quite unemotional; even considering it embarrassing to show his emotions in front of someone else. It was the same for me. Perhaps that is why, on listening to the news of her sickness and realizing that it had been almost a year since I saw her, my first reaction was of trying to remember what all had happened on my last trip home. The thing that I remembered distinctly was a quarrel with her. Although I had said sorry over the phone after I returned to college, it is never the same as meeting personally.

I was still regretting the moment and the reason of the quarrel while packing my bags when it struck me that she might not even be alive when I got there. The thought struck me like lightning and caused me to drop everything that I was trying to force into my bag. I somehow gathered the courage to pack my things and spent the rest of the time crying quietly, crouched on my bed. Though I am an atheist by choice, I distinctly remember praying to the nameless God to keep her well. Even though I don’t know which God I prayed to, I prayed for her well-being and for me to get a chance to say sorry.

The train journey was spent musing about everything that had happened, tears welling up in my eyes every now and then but I was forced to stop them from coming out – I am a guy and guys don’t cry, specially in a train full of unknown people. Although I had packed my iPod, by habit – without thinking, I didn’t even think of taking it out of my bag. It was in this reverie that the train reached Purulia and even then one of my co-passengers had to tell me that it was the last stop and that I should get going.

I caught the first bus I could in order to get home. Getting down at the bus stop, I took an auto straight to the hospital and ran the entire length of the ward to reach the bed she was on. There I saw her, lying peacefully with 3-4 tubes around her and an oxygen mask on her mouth. The doctor told me that she should be fine in a couple of days and that I might take her home after a week. I thanked all the Gods, even those of whom I had forgotten names, for keeping her away from danger.

She was able to open her eyes and look at me by the next day. When I went in front of her, she looked at me as if it was the first and only thing she had expected. She didn’t say a word when I broke down in her lap and cried my heart out. She was confused when I told her that I was sorry for what had happened on my last visit – she had forgiven me a long time ago and even forgotten the matter altogether. And she got angry when I told her that I would follow each and every thing she said from now onwards, her reaction being, “If you don’t show any stubbornness, how would I know that you are my son?”

And that was the moment of my life that I will never forget...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How to?

How do you get the over-excited four-year old kid you are traveling with to shut up and let you concentrate on chatting up the attractive girl sitting next to you in the train? (This was a question I faced recently during my vacations when I was traveling with my nephew.)
1)Tell him to shut up: If it was as simple as that, why would I have been asking this question at all?
2)Buy him something to eat: Anything you throw at him would be consumed before you get to say, “Hi,” and then you would have to drop your plans of starting a conversation because you see him swinging from the shelf. Plus, this would leave you poorer by a few bucks every time you try this.
3)Get him something to read: The most a four-year old kid knows is A B C D and a few rhymes and he would make such a loud noise reciting them that you would wish you hadn’t asked him to do it.
4)Give him your music player to listen to: As soon as he gets his hands on it, he would start trying to dismantle it rather than listening to it, forcing you to wrench it away for safe-keeping.
5)Smack him on the head: This will do the trick only if either he is scared enough to obey you or if he starts crying and goes to sleep thereafter. Since you do not know how hard to hit, the kid will most probably start crying – causing a lot of annoyance to you as well as your fellow passengers. Moreover, if he does not go to sleep it was a futile exercise. To top it all, hitting a kid would give a bad impression on the girl.

If any of you has any other ideas, please suggest.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Love at first sight?

“Hi! I am Abhay. I didn’t get your name.”

“Hello! You are looking very beautiful in this blue dress, it suits you. By the way, I am Abhay.”

“Hi! I am sorry but I couldn’t stop admiring you from afar and so thought it would be proper if I introduced myself.”

These were some of the self-introductory lines that crossed my mind when I looked at you for the first time. Let me make myself clear, I do NOT believe in love at first sight and anyhow, a classroom filled with 50-60 people is hardly the right place to fall in love, but there is something in you that has been attracting me from the moment I saw you.

Initially I thought that this is because you are very beautiful (a rarity in my college). But my friends (the people you’ll see sitting beside me if you turn your head) have made it pretty clear that they don’t consider you beautiful, let alone the “very” part. Some said you are kind-of cute and a few of them – the more outspoken ones – told me to get my eyes checked and now they are making fun of me. But somehow, I can’t help staring at you, although – sitting at the last bench – I can only see a part of your face.

You seem intent on copying down each and everything that the prof is saying. You won’t even be aware that some guy on the last bench has been staring at you continuously for the last half an hour or so. I, on the other hand, have not written a single word since I started looking at you. I hope I’ll be able to gather enough courage till the end of the class to ask you your name.

And now, you are looking at me and I feel happy - I try to smile. But something’s wrong – the whole class is looking at me!! Seems the prof has asked me a question and I have no clue what it is… I can hear someone sniggering. Thankfully, one of my friends seems to have been following the prof. He is whispering the answer now and I am repeating it out aloud. My mind meanwhile is buzzing with the questions, “Did she or anyone else notice that I was staring at her? Is this why the prof asked me this question? Did he comment something too that I missed?”

Now my friend has stopped whispering, it seems the answer is complete. Thanks a lot man, I owe you one! Even the prof seems satisfied. Now you have turned towards the blackboard again and I can go back to staring at you.

But what is this! You are packing up!! Has the bell gone? Everyone else is also packing up, seems 1 hour is over already. Funny how this same prof used to be able to bore me to death in 1 hour till last sem and now I am hoping that we had a double lecture!!

You pick up your stuff and leave in a hurry – I presume you have another class somewhere else – and so my hopes of getting to talk to you after the class are dashed. Anyways, this was only the first class, I’ll be sure to attend all the classes of this course. I’ll also try to sit on the first bench so that we might get talking once your tempo of noting down everything wears off.

If, at some point in time, you read this and recognize yourself, just give me a call. My no is +919932574151.

-- The guy in a black Mind-Over-Matter t-shirt and faded black jeans sitting at the back of the class.