October 20, 2006

Latent master pieces

Don't despair too much if you see beautiful things destroyed, if you see them perish. Because the best things are always growing in secret... The unseen things are our master pieces. What would seem like victory would be a defeat. What would seem like defeat would be a victory, an eternal victory of light. -Ben Okri

October 14, 2006

Art of listening

The best conversations are those when she listens to what you're not saying, says a hoarding.

October 03, 2006

Poisonous stories

To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself. -Ben Okri

September 16, 2006

Watery grave

I had a dream, rather a nightmare, the other day. It still haunts. It was about darkness. I was in a deep pit of darkness. Or, it looked like one. I could not recollect whether I was standing still or I was falling down. The infinity of darkness sent a chill down my spine. I didn't know how long or short I was there. But it seemed I was condemned to live there forever.
It took a while before I could feel the presence of others. I could not see them but they were whispering their fears. Some voices were familiar. I wondered whether they were aware of my presence. I said something and sounds of "..ssshhh" silenced me. I didn't know how long should I suffer the torment. It occured to me I had been living there for ages. That idea did no good. I sank further.
After some time, still in the darkness, I could identify the faces of people I knew. But there were some figures darker than the darkness. Soon I noticed that the others are listening to the grotesque figures. I, too, started listening.
The gigantic figures, moving in odd movements, were yelling, ''There will be light. There will be light. Don't listen to those who talk of darkness. There will be water. Don't believe those who talk of parched lands. There will be food and gold all over."
The voices around me were whispering, hurling abuses. I, however, could not guess whether they were abusing others or cursing themselves. But instinctively I drew my scribbling pad from my back pocket and started jotting down the promises, now beginning to pour. We are all wet. But I managed to note down the points. I had got enough for the story, probably would go on Page 1, with the headline 'Leaders assure light, water, food and gold'.
There were howls of voices all over. Protests too must have mixed in that uproar. It seemed there was no end for that commotion. I was dragged out of the dream by my wife. "Get up. The tanker has arrived. Go and fetch water. There was no power last night. The kid was crying all the night and you cared a damn," she shouted at me.
Not saying a word, I ran out holding a plastic can. It was a dommi. People were shouting at one another, hurling abuses and calling names. I had to join that.

August 29, 2006

time, tiger and fire


Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.

Jorge Luis Borges

July 14, 2006

Loving flowers

She discovered with great delight that one does not love one's children just because they are one's children but because of the friendship formed while raising them. -- Marquez

July 11, 2006

Thinking hurt

I hurt a friend. Or, my friend hurt me. I could never figure out who hurt whom. When I'm down and licking the wounds, I feel that it was my friend's fault. But when I'm doing good and on cloud nine, it seems it was my fault. Did I or didn't I -- the question torments and subsides only to surface at a vulnerable moment. It hurt, it hurts, either way.

July 05, 2006

Painting water and fish

My three-and-half-year-old son seems to have nursing a dream of becoming an artist. He would come to me with his small box of water colours and brush and ask me to fetch him a bowl of water and a notebook. This morning, he repeated this request and I obliged (I have to). After sometime, I saw water all over the page with a few strokes of blue. I scolded him for spoiling the notebook. "Father, this is a painting of a water tank. Don't you know, water tank contains water," he replied. This is not all. He, then, asked me to paint fish. I opened another page and drew a couple of fish. He protested saying, "Father, you should paint the fish in the tank. They can't survive out of water."

July 04, 2006

June 28, 2006

The sad little angel

Once upon a time there was a mother whose only child died. She cried for it unceasingly. Once she was out in the field and crying again. Suddenly she saw an entire band of lovely angels flying above her, all of them young and beautiful, all of them happy and cheerful. Then the mother thought, "Oh, if only my child were also such a little angel!" And she looked to see if she could not find her child in the band. But she could not see it.
Then from behind there came a little angel. It was very sad and was carrying a heavy black jug in its little hands. It was the mother's child.
The mother asked, "My child, why are you not with the happy little angels?"
"Mother," it said, "as long as you are crying I must collect your tears and cannot be happy like the others."
From that hour forth the mother cried no more.

June 26, 2006

Cloudy sky

Rains seem to elude. Skies are cloudy, open up rarely. But there is no reprieve for mothers, they have been crying all over. Yet another kid died, this time due to the negligent doctor. At least one kid gets killed every day. A kid run over by a lorry, father cutting the third daughter into pieces, a kid raped by a neigbhour, negligent doctor letting an ill child die. It seems to me, all mothers secretly dread in their sleep, living in nightmares of untold, impending accidents. Fathers, too, breathe fears, sniffing at probable dangers that his child might encounter. The other day, my son lost control and fell into the well in the backyard -- in a nightmare. I couldn't sleep for the rest of the night, sweating profusely. But , for mothers it is still more difficult. They can empathise with other mothers. So, they are more worried. Seems, some unknown force is out on the prowl, crushing the buds. Kids are being run over by vehicles, swallowed by manholes and succumbed by brainfever and malaria. The Government blames the officials, officials blame the school managements, school managements pass the buck on to the traffic cops, traffic cops show their finger at auto drivers and hooligans who steal manhole lids. It is fathers and mothers of the dead and living kids that suffer. Who cares? Secretly, I wish I could go to all those houses and console the kin, take my son there and let them play with him for some time.

June 25, 2006

Of flowers of dreams

“Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.”
- Ben Okri

The Names on the 9/11 Memorial

Whenever I am sent to New York (or, any other such global city) on an assignment, I make it a point to do all the tourist s...