Monday, June 17, 2013

Run Lola run!



The calm violet evening had just given birth to a full moon that hovered like a copper yellow bubble over the horizon... The satin curtains of red and orange had long been drawn leaving behind this velvety trail of pink and violet. It was the evening, where the moon seemed larger than life. Supreme and spiritual. Calm and effort-less. Way larger than its usual self. Way larger than the worries that bothered Lola, who seemed so lost in thought gazing at this magnificent yellow disc.

Lola didn't want this time to pass. She wanted to hold on to this moment and hated that time was never by her side. It always seemed to be in an utter hopeless hurry to meet the future. She seemed to have no control over it and always found herself playing a chaser's role. Much like the diligent mother who somehow manages to catch up with her toddler, only to see him viciously dart again! 

Lola had a staunch Christian upbringing. Her mother, being a single parent, had faced a lot of hardships in raising her. Lola wasn't all that good with her studies, but had managed to scrape through. They had diagnosed her with ADHD, but then who isn't? She loved the gym and sports was her passion. She never missed her morning jogs. She loved soccer. Dolls never interested her and she could never relate to the pinks.  

It had taken her an eternity and a lot of courage to come out of the closet. Until then life was nothing but suffocation. She decided to first confide in her mother, but this had gone down pretty hard with her. Her mother refused to accept it. She refused to see Lola's point of view. She refused that it could be genetic or could be due to hormonal imbalances. They clashed daily. She was willing to hire the best psychiatrist to "cure" her. 

Lola could breathe no longer in that home. So far she had felt that she was different. Now she felt alone and unable to connect to her own mother, let alone the society. She knew she wouldn't find much solace in her old orthodox town. She decided to move out to LA.

And she did. LA brought pace in her life. She picked on her opportunities and followed her passion to start a gym and soon managed to build a very comfortable life for herself. She was looked upon as some sort of a hero and her story inspired many. LA was way more receptive of her ways and she no longer lived with guilt or shame. But an open mind and respect for the orientation of others doesn't necessarily make their life easier. All this effort to find her own identity and make a mark for herself had taken away a lot of time. Lola was 38. Her relationship with her girlfriend, Jenny, had hit a rough patch. They were fighting a lot and the usual issues of communication and trust seemed to have reached a point of no return. 

All her childhood friends seemed happily married with kids. She felt left out. She felt left behind. She was still struggling to find solid ground. Still searching for a supporting companion with whom she could settle and start enjoying the little joys of life that most people so take for granted. 

Lola wanted to have kids of her own that she could raise with Jenny. She was reading a lot of medical articles on the possibilities for the same. Words like "donor insemination", "invitro fertilization", "ovulation induction", "adoption" seemed to have become her day-to-day lingo. She was also learning a lot about the legal tangles involving each. Somehow she was fascinated with the idea of her donating her eggs and Jenny bearing her child so that their family could enjoy the joys, social privileges and the legal recognition of complete dual motherhood.

But with their relationship hitting rock bottom, this dream of hers seemed to be fizzling away. She so wished that her life was a little easier! 

As the night passed by, Lola watched the moon calmly sail through the star studded sky. It seemed like an endless night. She barely managed to catch a wink, but many of her thoughts that bothered her for long seemed to have reached some sort of conclusion. She seemed to have made some long-pending decisions or regained some inner peace. 

That morning Lola visited a reproductive endocrinologist and enrolled for the procedure of freezing her eggs. At 38, she wanted to preserve a hope of ever having a child of her own.

After returning she hit the treadmill. She canceled all her client trainings for that day and decided to spend some time all by herself. She wanted to do more things for herself. She wanted to run for herself. She wanted more time.


Acknowledgments - 


Inspired by the story of Jackie Warner. No claim of adherence to factual truths is made here. In fact, the story has been altered with an aim to salute the people who come out of the closet and go on to make a mark in their lives and also to highlight the issues that they have to deal with along the way...

Sunday, July 08, 2012

A different knot




They met rather late in their lives
Honey-gatherers at abandoned hives
He hesitated a bit; and she just shied 
A different knot they tied...

He ignored her charms, but charming she was!
She ignored his concern, but caring he was!
They denied whilst their hearts pined
A different knot they tied...

They longed but neither seemed to confess
These grown-ups were taking such baby steps!
They were meant to be - this fate did decide
A different knot they tied...

Chance events kept putting them together
And absence made their hearts grow fonder
Who was the driver, for they were the ride
A different knot they tied...

Their togetherness did add a zeal
A reason to live - they both did feel
A cloudburst over some land that had dried
A different knot they tied...

How he wished they had met in time
Not just he, they were both partners in crime
Some paths just take a lifetime to collide!
A different knot they tied...

There was a park bench that they nearly did own
Where they whispered something from eve to morn
Seemed like they had nothing left to hide
A different knot they tied...

They knew they could never have a kid
Though secretly both so wished they did!
He was her baby, she was his child
A different knot they tied...

Then old age crept like the blanket of night
Weakened their bodies; snatched their might 
He nursed her till the day she died
A different knot they tied...

At their park bench he now sits alone
When she was around, it was their throne
He is the groom, she was his bride
A different knot they tied... 

Acknowledgments - Painting illustration - Greg Cartmell

Sunday, March 14, 2010

To bee or not to bee?



Each time a bee hits a glass-pane
And thrusts its might, but all in vain...
I open the window & set it free
And pray that 'He' does the same to me!

In times when all that I may see
Is just one road for there to be
And if I'm weak or the path's too long
I better be smart than being plain wrong!

Is it cowardice to choose another path
Or is it smartness to skip the blood-bath?
Do you play to win or do you play to play?
Is an answer I seek from myself today...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The pearl-maker


It itched
For which
There seemed no cure
A pebble
Did trouble
Like never before!

"Why me?"
Yelled he
As it deeply hurt
This oyster
Did suffer
A speck of dirt.
Every move
Did prove
A battle to be
'Twas hell
To dwell
With the enemy
In time
With slime
He covered this grain
That fused
And
smoothed
And relieved his pain

And thus
From dust
A pearl took birth
For which
That itch
Had to hurt!

Glossary -
Pearls are formed inside the shell of certain mollusks; as a defense mechanism to potentially threatening irritants such as a parasite or a speck of sand inside its shell. The mollusk creates a pearl to seal off the irritation.


Acknowledgments -
Painting Illustration - Anonymous

Friday, February 20, 2009

Flight of the milkweed

She felt so glued
Doomed and marooned
Upon the plant she grew
This meager seed
Of milkweed
Was a curse that angels threw.

No color, no smell.
This didn't go well
With the seed that felt so low
No wasp, no bee
No lovers had she
Amidst swans she was a crow!

Until that day
When blew her way
A breeze that defied all law
And off she flew
Like bubbles do
From kids with soap and straw.

She soar and flew
To places new
For she was light and dry
And then it hit -
All that deficit
Was so that she could fly!


Glossary -
Milkweed - A plant species that grows its seeds in follicles. Follicles contain soft filaments attached to individual seeds. When the follicle ripens, the seeds are blown by the wind, each carried by several filaments.
Also known as "म्हातारी" (Mhatari) in Marathi.

Acknowledgments -

Painting illustration - 'Milkweed' - Caroline Putnam
http://www.carolputnam.com/

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Riky chiktic

(Breach of contract)

Kaza: Tikeer toc. Zhik jakoor zhus.
(Yes Master. I'm all set.)
Zui: Diktic flshh stet. Zibber zab.
(Switch on your language translator. We need to act like 'humans' henceforth.)

It was A.D. 2159 & Zakurs, the inhabitants of Gliese-581-c were slowly inhabiting planet Earth, the 3rd rock from 'the Sun', an ordinary yellow-dwarf star, in the inner rim of the Milky Way Galaxy's Orion Arm. It was a controlled & a peaceful induction and no humans (the original inhabitants of planet Earth) were conveyed about this to avoid panic. Only the highly placed sources of the US & European Space agencies, the UN & SETI were aware of this. Gliese-581-c was one of the 3 extra-solar planets orbiting the red-dwarf star Gliese-581, in the constellation of Libra. The reason for this transit was that the temperature of Gliese-581-c was fast increasing due to the runaway greenhouse effect. The Zakurs seemed to have no control over it & this forced their eviction.

In October 2008, members of the networking website Bebo, had beamed a high-power transmission at Gliese-581-c, using the RT-70 radio telescope belonging to the National Space Agency of Ukraine. This transmission had arrived as a ray of hope in the Gliese-581 system's vicinity by the year 2029. They had intercepted & decoded these signals correctly. They beamed back with SoS signals that reached earth in 2049 and had thus triggered an interstellar dialogue. After years of communication and finally coming up with a mutually understandable protocol of communication, some ice broke between the two. The Zakurs had found the Earth to be an ideal habitable place. Being technologically way advanced, they were in every way capable of destroying humans & taking over the planet. But the fact that they themselves had survived this long, inspite of their prowess, implied that they were a tolerant-specie. It seemed that they believed in 'live & let live'. Also the fact that the Earth had in fact offered an olive branch initially, radically changed their outlook.

The Zakurs were an interesting specie. They were somewhat shorter than the humans (probably due to higher levels of gravity on their planet), hairless, grayish-blue with larger head & eyes. They had appendages similar to humans that differed essentially only in the number of toes. This made disguising them as humans easier for the US agencies. There was one unusual thing about them though. They were unisexual. A group of, one may say, all-females that reproduced my means of parthenogenesis - its eggs required no fertilization, and its offspring were exact and complete genetic duplicates of the mother. The offspring were born self-sufficient and after a few years of caring were independent. The bonds between parents & kids hence weren't strong. They seemed very low on the emotional-quotient or perhaps the range of emotions they experienced belonged to a different spectrum. However 'not harming each other' did seem to be a part of that spectrum too. Why else would they have survived for so long?

As per the pact, the humans had agreed to accomodate a limited number of Zakurs. The Zakurs had to strictly abide by a contract. The rules listed therein disallowed the Zakurs to converse in their own language ever in public. They were also disallowed from harming any human or developing acquaintances with any. And by no means were they supposed to reveal their true identity ever. They were tagged by a tracking device embedded in their wrist and were traceable to a specific secret agency of the US. It was imperative to keep check over them. Also the Zakurs were not to tamper with this device & were supposed to keep to themselves as much as possible.

The first batch of 300 Zakurs had arrived months back. They were also fitted with a chip that contained all necessary, sharable historical & geographical information of planet Earth as well as information regarding mannerisms & procedures followed by humans. This was to help them gel-in quickly & also to make them indistinguishable for laymen. These 300 Zakurs were now in-charge of training further batches arriving in turns. The 2nd batch had brought in Kaza, the clone-daughter of Zui. Zui being an eminent scientist amongst the Zakurs, was included in Batch-1. Zui had ramped Kaza enough with the theoretical know-hows and now it was time for Kaza's practicals. Zui was to show Kaza around and get her familiar to humans, the most advanced specie on planet Earth.

Zui drove out of the secret labs in the Mojave Desert and hit the road lined with Joshua trees that cut through the arid yellow desert & took them to LA. Zui parked her car and decided to take a walk with Kaza down the crowded market. The more the stimuli, the more the learning, she was convinced. Kaza seemed excited, though it was a little difficult for humans to gauge the emotions of the Zakurs.

The chips embedded in Zui as well as Kaza were fast retrieving information & were matching various objects that they were seeing. Flowers and fruits for sale, the air-filled colorful balloons, the giggling kids encircling the clown, humans interacting and also the dogs which belonged to another specie tamed by the humans. All seemed so amusing!

The first observation that Kaza made was that humans, like so many other species of this planet, had two sexes. They lived in close groups and cared for their offspring for way longer than the Zakurs did. Human faces also showed such a vast range of emotions! They also indulged in leisure, which mostly included doing nothing worthwhile. No amount of lab-sessions had prepared Kaza for such a cultural-shock.

The next observation that Kaza made was that of the myriad things out there for sale. Things with distinct taste, texture, aroma... The sensors fitted within their suits helped them enjoy all of these. "Food", said Zui. "It nourishes all the inhabitants of this planet".

Kaza also observed the paper-currency exchanging hands of vendors & customers. "Money", Zui said. "It was created to facilitate the barter-system, but evolved into something very complex. With countries trading with each other, it has grown into a behemoth system. But one thing remains unchanged. The more one has it, the more he's respected, honored & is eligible to the luxuries of this planet. People kill for money."

Just then the church bell rang & drew Kaza's attention. "Religion", Zui said. "Remember Kaza... there are many religions followed by humans from various parts of this planet. They are essentially a set of thoughts that humans created for themselves, perhaps for better ways of living. All have their goods and bads, gods & daemons. As per the pact, we are not allowed to question them. We need to be tolerant of every stream of thought. You need not follow any but do not disrespect them. Remember we are guests."

"I understand, Master. But I am very curious about their concept of ‘God’. They too are baffled by those cosmic questions of 'Who are we?'! We aren't much different in that sense. Could their Gods & saints have been alien visitors like us... 'Humans' with superhuman powers?"
"Maybe, but don't promote this thought", replied Zui. "Intolerance of religion, caste & community has caused many a war amongst people of this planet. It is as destructive as the greenhouse effects destroying our mother-planet".

A little further, they came across a couple that seemed very much in love. The lady had a rose in her hand too. Kaza seemed amused. "Oh, humans, they say, are overwhelmed by this strong emotion, they call 'Love'. It's a crazy cocktail of chemicals within them. They say it makes them do crazy things", said Zui. "Ok, but what's it's significance?” asked Kaza. "To keep them bonded, to make them tolerant and caring, to urge them to reproduce & then to get them to take care of the offspring. Love appears in various forms. It's life's way of surviving & thriving", Zui replied clinically. Kaza seemed touched, perhaps... but then, it was so difficult for humans to gauge the emotions of the Zakurs.

Zui made sure that they walked on till the end of the road, marked by a graveyard. When they reached there, they noticed a group of humans standing around a casket and lamenting. Kaza seemed struck. "Death", informed Zui. "Essentially, nature's way of cleaning the old to make way for the new. But disease, accident, money, love and a hundred other reasons cause death too". "Yes, but what's this outburst amongst these humans?" inquired Kaza. "It's called weeping", said Zui. "Human-body is sometimes unable to cope with this over-weighing burden of emotions. Emotions of loss or even of joy. That's when their body weeps. Often marked by tears that flow through their eyes. Some weep silently too. They are the restrained lot".

Kaza seemed overwhelmed with this information which was rather unusual as their chip was capable of churning way higher volumes of data than this. She seemed quiet throughout her journey back to the labs. Then for a few days she visited the market-place all by herself. Her face seemed to be getting more expressive, but even then, it was so difficult for humans to gauge the emotions of the Zakurs.

All seemed fine, till one day, alarm bells were sounded by the US agencies. A breach of contract had occured. Kaza was missing. After a frantic search & help from Zui about her possible whereabouts, she was located at the market-place that she frequented so often and was arrested. She was caught conversing with a human male and also had a rose in her hand! She had earlier sliced off the tracking device from her wrist.

Zui visited Kaza in her detention-cell. "You realize that you have breached the contract, don't you?” questioned Zui. Kaza turned towards Zui. Tears had swelled in her eyes, most unusual for the Zakurs! Were it the emotions of love & attachment that had overwhelmed Kaza, wondered Zui. Was it the next-step in the evolution of the Zakurs? Had it taken Kaza a travel of 20 light-years and a single interaction with beings from an alien planet to experience this silly emotion, humans called 'Love'? Was she turning out to be, tch, humane? Zui was perplexed.

Kaza stayed quiet & didn't utter a word. She was experiencing feelings that she had never known before. It had become so difficult even for the Zakurs to gauge the emotions of fellow-Zakurs!


Acknowledgments -
My frustrations with the stark limitations of my telescope & not to mention all the mushiness & fuss regarding yesterday's V-day :-)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tracing Alice...



Calvin was growing up so fast that had he placed his palm on top of his head he would have felt himself grow-up many inches daily. Just like Alice from Wonderland, his most favorite bed-time-story. He was being introduced to so many new subjects at school at such a frantic pace that he was facing great difficulties in coping with them all. His head whirled with so much information being stuffed into it, all at the same time! He was barely out of his age of devouring comic-books and he was already being introduced to Maths & Physics, Literature & Biology. He hadn't even questioned the existence of Santa yet, to deserve punishment of this kind! It seemed that his transition from a world of fairy-tales to that governed by necessities & laws was going to be rather premature & abrupt. He looked so over-informed & drowsy that day that his mom offered him a nice warm cup of chocolate-milk & tucked him early to bed along with his favorite tiger-toy.
As mommy shut the door behind her, Calvin sprang up & prodded Hobbes to stay awake. He wanted to read him his favorite bed-time story for the umpteenth time. Hobbes looked disinterested as he, by now, knew it by heart! Calvin turned the first leaf and started narrating. "A white rabbit ran past wearing a coat and carrying a watch, lamenting running late". Wondering why Calvin had stopped narrating, Hobbes asked "Ain't Alice supposed to follow it?". Hearing no response for long, Hobbes opened one eye of his to see what Calvin was up to. A perplexed Calvin was turning the pages frantically. "Something missing, eh?", inquired Hobbes. "Yeah, Alice's amiss & I need to look for her", replied Calvin. Right before Hobbes' spell-bound eyes, Calvin shrunk & entered a frame in the comic book. Hobbes followed suit...
"Now where u gonna look for her?", asked Hobbes. "Let's ask that aging gentleman with unkempt hair puffing at his pipe over there", replied Calvin. "Sir, have you seen Alice?" inquired Calvin. "Call me Albert, I'm yet to be knighted", he replied. "She went down a worm-hole, right there", he went on... "U mean a rabbit-hole", said Calvin. "Umm... u may say so", replied Albert.
Calvin walked to the 'door' of the worm-hole, but found that it was locked. A table next to the door had a key placed upon it but Calvin couldn't reach it as he had shrunk. He looked around & picked an iron nail which now seemed like a giant-rod & starting digging into the door. Irritated by this noisy activity, a man popped out his head from a bath-tub placed close-by. He had a long beard. "Don't dig. Use it as a lever & lift the door open", he advised. "But it's such a tiny nail & the door is so huge!", replied Calvin skeptically. "Duh! Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth", muttered the guy as he slipped back into the tub. Calvin obeyed & the door indeed gave way. "Eureka, eureka", yelled he with joy, as he entered.
The door opened into a beautiful orchard. Spring had just set in and the flowers & fruits of choicest colors & fragrances were in full-bloom. It looked like paradise, but there were no people around & Calvin was getting desperate. He had to find Alice! After walking some distance, he bumped into a finicky guy, Werner. "Have you seen Alice, Sir? She entered this door through the worm-hole", said Calvin. "How fast was she traveling?", questioned Werner. "And how does that matter?", asked Calvin. Sensing the irritation in Calvin's voice, he answered, "I saw a girl there, no here, no no there...". "Are you always this uncertain? This doesn't help!", yelled a disgruntled Calvin as he walked on.
After haphazardly looking around for sometime, he came across a stout balding man with distinctive side-burns quietly and intently studying the transmutations of species in a Mock-Turtle. "Sir, is this the Garden of Eden & are you Adam?", asked Calvin. "No, I'm Charles and what garden?", he replied. "The place where the first man & his wife lived after they were created by God", replied Calvin. "Don't know 'bout that but not everything was 'created' for mankind. Life evolved...", he continued. "He seems to be an Atheist", whispered Hobbes which Charles overheard. "No, I'm more of an Agnostic, or a Naturalist u may say...", he replied. "Who gave u this address, anyway?", inquired Charles. "Oh, we just followed the white-rabbit wearing a coat & carrying a watch", replied Calvin. "What!? Now those rabbits have taken to this too?", yelled a visibly upset Charles. He threw away a fat book he had nearly completed writing & started all over again. 'On the Origin of the Species - by means of unnatural selection', he wrote on its cover and turned the leaf. Calvin was shaken up, but nevertheless was happy to have run into the Mock-Turtle. Now Alice had to be around. "Where can I find the closest habitation?", asked Calvin. "Follow this path of white-pebbles left by Hansel and Gretel", directed Charles getting back to his writing.
The path sure did lead Calvin & Hobbes to a tall castle. It had two windows, but no doors nor stairs! An apple tree grew under one of it's windows. A young love-struck Romeo stood at the foot of this apple tree, contemplating how to scale it in order to reach the window. His accomplice, Euler, put a reassuring arm around him & adviced, "Traverse depth-first". "Thanks", replied Romeo as he hastily scrambled up the apple-tree. So shabby was his climb that he dropped an apple over the head of another fellow, Isaac, resting under the tree. "Why did the apple fall straight down?", wondered Isaac. Calvin enquired with Euler whether the apple tree lead to Alice. "No, this one leads to Juliet", he replied. "Check out the other window", he further added.
On reaching the other window, Calvin noticed a beautiful long braid of golden hair reaching down from it. It was 20 ells long & touched the ground! Three young men stood at its tip, caressing & admiring it. "Does this golden-braid lead to Alice?", asked Calvin. "Oh, this double-helix leads to Rapunzel", replied James. "Sigh!", uttered Calvin, with drooped shoulders. "We're new to this place. Check out with that old guy, there", added James pointing to a shabbily dressed old man round the corner.
A tired Calvin now approached the old man. He was so old that he looked ancient! "Seen Alice?", asked Calvin keeping his question short.
"Oh, this place looks new to me too, son. I mean, I do belong here but I've returned after 20 years, u see... Things have changed such a lot since then... ", replied Rip. "Phew! I've looked for her all day. I must have traveled more than Gulliver!", sighed Calvin.
"Was she lame?", questioned Rip.
"What? No!", replied Calvin.
"Then was she deaf?", Rip inquired further.
"No! She was hale & hearty", replied an annoyed Calvin.
"Then I have sad news for u kid. She must have been abducted by the Pied piper of Hamelin. One hundred and thirty boys and girls followed him out of the town, where they were lured into a cave on the Köppen Hill and never seen again."
"No!!! Take me to the Koppelberg Hills, please, please take me to Koppelberg...", Calvin kept pleading.
"You first need to go to school", said his mom as she woke him up. "You're late, Calvin!", yelled she whilst thrusting a tooth-brush into his mouth and making him stand before the mirror of his bathroom.
As a sleepy Calvin stood in front of the mirror brushing his teeth, he pondered what the world would be like on the other side of the mirror. He was so overwhelmed by the urge to experience that alternate world!
Right before Hobbes' spell-bound eyes, Calvin shrunk & walked in through the looking-glass. Hobbes followed suit...


Dedicated to - All those kids who are made to grow too early, too fast.