freshly in her grave

the thin throat of the pale girl
the pale throat of the thin one
silenced in the shadow of a darkness
that never searched for any light

the weight on her shoulders
its vision through her eyes
could she blink a bit
or even look at her side

there were hardly miles that she had gazed
on this deceptive ocean of hatred
trapped between her young innocence
and a pluralistic ignorance all around

around kids we are all kids
sure enough, aren’t we
or are we feral animals first
with all the depravity that comes with it

what is the purpose
of politics and religion
when all this exceptional elegance
hides such base instincts

powerful precedents
and inherited stereotypes.
modern manifestation
of an ancient prejudice

with occasional remembrance of humanity
exhuming superficial memories
has time been standing still
or has it moved too far ahead of us

why is it that a death, a tragedy,
makes more sense than the life it lost
why this proximity between love and indifference
has to have a tragedy in between

what were we thinking .
when we weren’t thinking
there is something unsettling
about being reassured in troubled times

how can we be civilized
when we can be so barbaric
how did we develop such apathy
with the most disturbing of things

there is ice in our veins
when it needs to be
there is blood in our veins
when it needs to be

there is no blood in her veins
there is no ice in her veins
only this didn’t need to be
She is lying freshly in her grave

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At so young an age!

Are we so careless cogs in a machine?
So cynical about our ability as to tolerate,
So disbelieving of our desires as to limp,
At so young an age!

Are we so accepting of our plight?
So apologetic of the status quo as to stand by,
So devoted to the sickness as to propagate,
At so young an age!

Are we so pathetically predictable?
So redundant and bureaucratic as to imitate,
So obedient and intransigent as to circulate,
At so young an age!

Are we so cynical of our capabilities?
So lifelessly content to seek what others so,
So un-promiscuous and uniform,
At so young an age!

The question

How do we live?
How do we die?
Perhaps, that is not the question.

How do we live while we die?
How do we die while we live?
Perhaps, that is the question.

Unsent Messages

If messenger could save unsent messages
I wonder how many drafts I would have –
Of unresolved questions
And unquestioned answers.

It would be a cascade of thoughts,
At times, more real than those ‘sent’
At others, just silly and innocent –
A mixture of differen me-s.

Sometimes its my slow response speed,
Unable to understand the sea of emojis,
And ever cascading list of shorthands.
Oh, I just keep pressing ‘clear’.

If messenger could save unsent messages,
Would FB ‘deep learn’ from it?
Would it send ‘recommends’ based on these?
Would those be just be another piece of data?

Who is say the message was unsent?
If it fed a server on some distant farmland,
Who is to say those thoughts were unresolved?
If they were resolved neatly on an algorithm.

Memory

There is little to be remembered,
Everything else is a reconstruction
Of the violence and of separation.

Still trapped in the same confinement,
Only place where it feels confortable,
How incredibly pathetic and terrible.

There has been no touch, no connection,
Of this lonely being with another,
If only there was a person to consider.

That something it misses and fears,
The boldness and confidence – its hubris,
It does not sit easy with a silent bliss.

There was a time when it dared to express,
Put down and laughed at – pretty much failed,
The resolve to express – it quailed.

What misery it must feel, it knows not yet,
Is anything really new after every December,
It has so little to forget, or even to remember.

Do I get fooled in some QnA sessions?

There are these colloquium lectures organized by our college at regular intervals which I try to attend, with much curiosity. The lecturer/panel delivers the talk and a question & answer session follows – the interactive part of the session.

I also try to ask questions in these sessions. However, it is difficult for the hosts to accommodate all the questions, from the large number of people who raise hands for that opportunity after the lecture and after each question is answered from the dais. What I find very interesting is the way the people who ask questions are chosen.

Suppose the hall is organized into three blocks of seats. What I have often observed is that one person is chosen from each block successively. Then if time permits, a person is chosen from the front/back/middle of the hall, depending on where the previous questions and especially the last did not come from. Sometimes, the speaker insists on having a male-female alternation, which is rare.

The people who actually get the microphone to ask a question are often flocked by other ‘aspirants’, who almost never get the chance to ask (sometimes they do if they can snatch the microphone from the previous person after s/he’s done). This has happened to me too sometimes (I try to get the microphone immediately after my neighbor has asked the question – often this doesn’t work as I have to yield to the politeness of volunteers). Sometimes, no person in my vicinity gets an opportunity to ask a question. That’s when I feel very little regret but the process seems unfair. However, when someone in my vicinity does get to ask (and I don’t) I feel more regret – because my neighbor who got the opportunity could just have been me. However, it doesn’t seem to be unfair to me.

Recently, I read about the work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky – behavioral scientists who have explored the quirks of human thinking. They set out a theory of regret.

The researchers write, ‘the general point is that the same state of affairs (objectively) can be experienced with very different degrees of misery’, depending on how easy it is to imagine that things might have turned out differently.

Logically, the odds of getting an opportunity to ask increases only slightly as the number of persons who haven’t asked a question decrease one by one…no matter my location in the crowd. However, the further I am from the chosen person, the less regret I feel. There is that sense of having come closer to getting that opportunity when my neighbor gets an opportunity.

When I can observe that not all areas of the hall have been covered, I feel that the process is unfair. Especially so, if no one from my vicinity gets an opportunity.

I wonder if I get fooled by my feeling of having come close. I wonder how the way of choosing questioners can be made fairer, or is that just a stupid ask?

Whose Patna is it anyway?

I wonder how a Patna-ite would respond to if I told them I was writing about Patna. Would they think I am crazy beacause the city is so hysterical? Would they think I am being patronising because I don’t live in Patna? Would they start to suggest me, indefinitely, things or places to write about, that would describe the city? Would they suggest me better things to do with my time?

A few questions that come to mind that they might ask.

Why are you writing about Patna? Aah… which newspaper do you work for…the elections are over…so it is curious that you want to write about Patna now…let me guess…it is because you live here… but you don’t seem to…Oh, you used to live here… then you certainly try to live here a bit before writing…because you are so young you probably won’t remember much from childhood about Patna…and don’t tell me you feel nostalgic…Oh and don’t do it for fun because we are already made fun of by outsiders…we don’t expect that from you who say you lived here…

Which part of Patna are you writing about? You said this is a city…but is it really?…your limited venture in the city will definitely not suffice its description…and from looks of you, it seems you haven’t seen much poverty…Since you are constantly replying in Hindi, I am sure Bhojpuri or Maithili isn’t on your tongue…and the streets – do not think Boring Road and Bailey Road represent Patna…neither the people who never miss a chance to go there…or shiny new malls coming up…come to the vegetable market near railway station late at night and you will see what living can be like in this place…the life that is not as glamorous as elections or as scandalous as scams…

Whose Patna are you writing about anyway? There is the student who rushes everyday to a coaching institute to become like you…the aspirant of a job that no one seems to get…the shopkeeper who seldom forgets to spread this shop onto the road…the group of youngsters who regularly visit the malls…the kids who sell food on the road nearby…the people who work in those shiny new offices…the sweet-seller who returns home with much of what he came with…the rickshaw-driver who doesn’t miss a honk…the rickshaw-puller who has to haggle in the deepest even in rich societies…the driver who always finds a way put of traffic…the construction worker on these ever flowing flyovers…the couple hiding in the park among many like them…or me idling my time with you…or you who seem to be idle enought to write about this place you call a city…

Whose Patna is it anyway?

Patna is the capital city of Bihar, a state in the eastern part of India. I lived, rather reclusively, there for eleven years as a school-going child.