Archive for February 20, 2013


Vacuum

Callously discarding,

talismans of heart and soul,

hastily scorching all bridges,

in a supernova burying me whole,

retreating into emptiness,

no salvation to be found,

sins too many to absolve,

drowning, in a freshly
dug hole in the cold ground.

Hollow, empty, barren desolation closes in,

asphyxiating me,

within the walls of my dismal room,

sinking into the abyss,

disappearing, fading, lost forever,

inside an emotionless,

vacuum

My Family: A Historical Journey Through the Seasons.

Part Three: A Summer Digression.

And now, dear reader (may your patience be praised!), I am going to steer this ship of memories as we embark on a journey of emotions – a subjective voyage through the feelings that I have felt, the emotions that I have experienced during the course of my 40 year old life.

You, dear reader, may stop reading right now if you find outpourings of emotion and wearing one’s feelings on one’s sleeve not your cup of Earl-Grey! If however, and I sincerely hope you do decide to read through this ‘summer’ of life’s memories, I assure you that what you will read will be savage honesty, however painful and hard it is to bare one’s soul for all to see the flawed human-beings that we all are.

And so it was that just past my 18th birthday in September of 1990, I found myself ‘home’ in South Africa, after 18. years of dreaming what ‘home’ would be like and how my brother and sister and cousins and aunts and uncles would take me into their homes and lives.

I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and kindness showered on me, the ‘returning’ boy who was not really returning, but was dipping his toes into the early 1990’s, a period of South African history, just preceding the first free and democratic election in 1994, that was one of the country’s most trying of times.

The Apartheid regime, having unbanned all political organisations and liberation movements and releasing political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela and others, was still not willing to relinquish power, and had embarked on a cynical and dirty campaign of fomenting violence in the sprawling black townships in Johannesburg, Durban and other cities around the country.

There were killings and hit-squads that roamed and terrorised communities while negotiations between the Apartheid government and the African National Congress (ANC) offered hope and then broke down, and then were restarted until finally, on April the 27th, 1994, black South African, for the first time in their lives, cast their ballots which resulted in sweeping Nelson Mandela’s ANC into power, with Nelson Mandela or ‘Madiba’ as he is known becoming South Africa’s first black President.

I attended the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first truly democratically elected President in Pretoria on a crisp May 10th morning along with friends and comrades, and we openly wept as the South African Air-Force flew overhead, the flag of our new ‘rainbow’ nation fluttering below.

A Flash Back –

My early days in South Africa were ones of family dinners and visits to relatives and old family friends and comrades in the struggle. My father started work almost immediately at the ANC’s headquarters in central Johannesburg, and I attended my final year of high-school, also in central Johannesburg.

Looking back now, I see myself then as a caricature of the immigrant who just wants to fit in, always being on one’s best behaviour, and under no circumstances allowing the turmoil within to bubble to the surface.

I was born to parents who were non-religious, my father definitely more so than my mother, who ‘believed’ in God, though was never one to make a show of it.

I grew up not really knowing what religion I was born into, as my parents never, and though never is a strong word, it is applicable here, my parents never mentioned religion at home.

My mom would cook up a storm on Eid-ul-Fitr every year, the feast that is the culmination of the fasting month of Ramadaan, but then we never fasted or paid attention to religious ritual or practice. I can say that religion was absent from our home, whether we were in India, Cairo or Helsinki.

I am forever indebted to my parents for having raised me with, and this may sound pompous of me to say, humane values, rather than strictly religious ones, not that the two are mutually exclusive!

I attended a school in Delhi in the 1980’s, Springdales, an institution founded by two great humanitarians, Mrs. Rajni Kumar and her husband Mr. Yudhishter Kumar, both human-beings who possessed the highest qualities of compassion, humanity, and a burning sense of the need to tackle injustice, wherever and in whatever shape or form it was to be encountered.

My years at Springdales in Delhi, though I was hardly a promising academic student (having failed standard 8!), I now look back and am forever indebted to the culture of tolerance and respect for all people, regardless of station in life, religion, caste, gender or race, that my still-beloved Springdales inculcated in me.

The culture of Springdales School and the manner in which my parents raised me, has led to a life-long aversion to intolerance in any shape, colour or form, and a strong belief in the power of rational and critical thinking.

I thank my parents again, and my Springdales, for bestowing on me this invaluable gift.

A Flash Forward –

And so I find myself, now in the teen years of the new millennium, still always feeling that I am on the outside, looking in – and I find this vantage point to be, strangely, comfortable now, I must admit.

I do not have much time for religion or for cultural affiliations. Again, this is not meant to be offensive to anyone, these are the feelings I am comfortable with. I cannot stress this enough, just how my upbringing and my years at Springdales have hewn into my consciousness, the absolute need for the respect for all.

I am growing weary of talking about myself, as I am sure you, dear reader, are as well, and so I shall stop this monologue with the words of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara who when responding to a woman who also bore the ‘Guevara’ name and who had written to Che asking him where in Spain his ancestors came from. This was Che’s response …

“I don’t think you and I are very closely related but if you are capable of trembling with indignation each time that an injustice is committed in the world, we are comrades, and that is more important.”

Thank you, dear reader, for your patience, and for your taking the time to read these ramblings of mine.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Three words,

murmured in exhaled whispers,

filling infinite ears,
through numberless tongues.

Three words,

soothing, embalming, teasing, cajoling, suffocating, giggling,

spoken so much, meaning so little,
conveying dreams, hopes, life, peace,

offering solace, comfort,
bliss,

stoking fear, frustration, anger,

emptying days of meaning,

offering rickety crutches,

onto which countless emotions end up leaning.

Three words,

mumbled, gargled, spewed, spit out,

violated, battered, ripped open, casually desecrated,

crashing down upon skewered hearts,

shrinking into nothingness,

in each breath that departs.

Three words,

‘I love you’,

blaring out of empty mouths,

emblazoned on fluff,

rings on fingers, cards, flowers, puffed teddy-bears,

stuff,

hollow stuff.

Three words,

mortify me, as I scribble this verse,

rendered catatonic by fear,

revisiting the truant past,

knowing,

three words,

curled-up, wounded, gasping for air,

accepting at last,

that,

you do not care

Savage lies, mercilessly spoken,

battering emotions, a heart exposed, nakedly open,

companionship was all that was sought,

not blue-chip bonds, hastily sold and bought.

The bonds I sought were simple,

peaceful nights, scribbling verse in unseen black,

delicately caressing words of love, my fingers tracing poems, over the contours of your soft back.

It saddens me to say, my thoughts were dreamed in vain,

and it grieves me see, the ashes of our love,

floating down the streets we walked,

scattered in the rivulets of this night’s pouring rain.

Alone I scribble this paltry verse,

the darkest of nights, in the midst of howling storms,

and though I may heal some day,

the memory of the ashes of our love,

floating down the streets we once walked,

shall remain buried deep,

until my dying day

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