माँ

अब नींद नहीं आती तो थोड़ा धड़कन को सुन लेता हूँ,
मैने दिल में माँ की लोरी छुपाकर रक्खी है |
सर्दी में ओढ़ लेता हूँ एक पुराना कंबल,
मैने माँ के आँचल की गर्माहट बचाए रक्खी है |

माँ के आशीर्वाद से बड़ा फ़ायदा क्या?
माँ के नसीहत से बड़ा क़ायदा क्या?
मंदिर के तीर्थ में कहाँ मिलता है अमृत
मैने माँ के आँसुओं की नमी बचाए रक्खी है |

कौन बताए सही ग़लत किस राह पर चल पड़े?
कौन बताए दुश्मन दोस्त जिससे हम लड़ पड़े?
खामोशी की चीख़ हो या शोर में सन्नाटा
मैंने जेहेन में अब भी माँ बसाए रक्खी है |

Love

Love.

Takes you places.

Places you’d rather be and places you don’t want to see.

Places of your dreams and places that make you scream.

Places dark with a ray of light, places bright with a storm in sight.

Places you never want to leave, places real yet so make-believe.

Love.

Changes you.

For better and for worse, without a chance to rehearse.

Makes you a Demon and a God, makes you fight wars uncalled for.

Makes you laugh in your misery, makes you cry when you’re happy.

Makes you a saint. Makes you a sinner.  Makes you lose all and still be a winner.

Love.

Kills you.

Drives a knife in your spine and kisses you a sweet kiss goodbye.

Squeezes your heart dry and leaves you to die.

Rips you apart from a gaping bullethole to leave you a corpse without a soul.

Makes you hate life and welcome death. Makes you pray for your final wreath.

Love.

 

DELTA 1

The Fog

It wasn’t a typical cold winter’s night. And yet just cold enough for a walk. The first fog of the season rolled lazily over the dim gas lit streets. We were strolling, wandering really. We didn’t know where the road was taking us, and didn’t need to. She looked splendid enough to make me forget journeys and destinations. Her face glowed in whatever little light the street lamps shared with the world around them. I was mesmerized. She was bewildered. Her beauty and modesty was as beautiful a potion as it was toxic. And my heart was already feeling the first pangs of its power.

I deliberately stopped under a lamp to slow her down, just so I could soak in the radiance of her face. The fog rolled past the lamp as lazily as ever, but it danced across her face, caressing it like a lover and making me jealous. And in that jealous, love filled rage, I touched her cheeks, almost as if to wipe those shadows off her face. Startled, her eyes questioned me as fleetingly as they found the answer. She smiled and something in those eyes assured me the fog could never touch her the way I did. Her eyes laid bare my insecurities and covered them in a blanket. I was lost in them, and would’ve paid a fortune not to be found again.

Something did find me. A noise somewhere in the distance perhaps. After the moment I took to recollect my thoughts, my eyes sought her again. Framed and behind a thin veil of glass, her eyes still fixated me and pulled me away from the banalities of existence. The memories started flooding my mind again, making my head throb with the sheer collage of images of an unforgettable yesterday, and making my heart ache with the feelings each moment held within itself. The brain defense mechanism made me involuntarily reach out for some book on the table, and open the first page.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

DELTA1

The Importance Of Being Nolan

That Christopher Nolan is a Genius needs no discussion. One simply has to look at his portfolio of movies to understand why he deserves this accolade, and many more. But more than that, he’s a magician. Because only a magician could have rescued an icon like the Batman from it’s lowest point in cinematic history and take it to stratospheric heights in the span of a trilogy. To understand how he accomplished this impossible feat, you need to look away from ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy and at another one of his mind boggling movies, ‘The Prestige’.

‘The Prestige’ talks about the rivalry between two magicians but that is quite besides the point. During the very first scene, which sets up the tone of the movie, Michael Caine explains that every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. ‘The Pledge’, ‘The Turn’, and ‘The Prestige’. That’s it. If you understand this, you understand it’s manifestation in ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy.

‘Batman Begins’ was ‘The Pledge’. Nolan adopted an icon that was nothing but dead. After the disaster that was the George Clooney starrer ‘Batman and Robin’, the caped crusader was written off and no one dared go down the path of resurrecting and flashing the Bat Signal again. Nolan dared. He also made a solemn promise to the Batman faithful. He would keep the movie true to its character. Batman would be dark, gritty, brooding, and the criminals’ absolute worst nightmare. The first movie would do what ‘The First Year’ did. It would establish Batman as the giant bat in Gotham who struck fear in the criminal mind with so much of a flash of the Bat Signal. Nolan made sure Batman’s legendary status in superhero folklore as the greatest detective was also revived in the process. Nolan showed us the original Batman. The Batman movie that should always have been. He asked us to check if this was correct and that he was faithful to the comic character.  He kept things basic and concentrated on building the foundations. Simple things like the tumblr jumping from roof-tops, the ‘back-up’ in Arkham asylum. Nothing that was NOT in the comic. He kept things ordinary, simple till the last scene.

The last scene in ‘Batman Begins’ truly defined his pledge – that he will take it to the next level and bring back The Clown Prince of crime. Gordan handed over a playing card in a ziplock plastic packet to Batman. He turned it over to find it’s a joker. That one moment was enough to send shivers down the spine, with your mind already fantasizing over the countless possibilities that hell would break loose in the next part of the series.

Nolan kept his word. And how! Heath Ledger’s Joker exploded on the scene and made ‘The Dark Knight’ his own. He unleashed anarchy without pride or prejudice. He turned Gotham upside down. He created doubts in the minds of the bravest and strongest believers. He took a city with a fearless D.A. and turned him into a psychopath murderer who decided a man’s fate on the flip of a coin. He took away hope and replaced it with despair. He took away law and replaced it with chaos. He made Batman doubt himself and  almost give himself up to save people, such was the brilliance of his schemes. He pushed Batman to go to the extreme step of illegal surveillance of the entire city, all the while teasing him to break his one rule, safe in the knowledge that Batman will never break it. By the time he finished with the city, he almost blew up half the population, created a monster and forced Batman to become a fugitive wanted for Dent’s murder to save his identity. In the span of two and a half incredible hours, Nolan turned Batman from the one ally Gotham’s bravest could trust to the most wanted criminal, answerable for Dent’s murder. He turned Batman to a hero that Gotham deserved, but not the one it needed. Nolan had just executed the most brilliant Turn in the history of magic.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was always going to be ‘The Prestige’ in Nolan’s magical trilogy. Simply because the next antagonist to step into Heath Ledger’s Joker had to be more than any ordinary goon. It had to be someone who knew Batman more than Batman himself. Someone capable of turning the tables on the Bat and beating him to pulp. Enter Bane. While the Joker was Ledger’s creation, Bane was Nolan’s. Tom Hardy just played that part to perfection. Not only was the character well written, but Hardy’s expressive eyes (remember that most of his face was hidden behind his ominous mask) and his beefed up physique took Bane to a whole new dimension. And he broke the goddamn Batman’s back. He fucking broke his back! If you didn’t feel all hope deserting you when you watched a crippled Batman being dragged away, you were just watching moving images on a screen. You never connected with the magic. Nolan took everything to an epic level in this movie. In TDK, Gotham was held hostage. In TDKR, Gotham was under a siege counting down to it’s death. In TDK, Batman had to come to terms with people dying around him just because someone wanted him to show his true identity. In TDKR, Batman had to come to terms with not only death, but loneliness, betrayal, bankruptcy, and near complete mental and physical breakdown. Batman had to start from scratch, resurrect himself from the pit of hell and take the fight to Bane, no matter the cost. He did just that. In the most epic way possible. And then just you felt like you were in a vacuum created by a mushroom cloud on the horizon, Nolan played a masterstroke and restored everything back to normal. Despite the inevitability of the end of this trilogy, enough seeds were sown for another one to sprout, if someone cared to nurture them.

I believe ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy was one the most spectacular things to happen to cinema in a long time. And in hindsight, I don’t think any other director could have done the caped crusader more justice than Nolan.

He became the magician Batman deserved, and needed.

DELTA1

The Guardian

I’m late for this. It was long overdue. But it’s never too late to make amends. The following short essay is a pathetic attempt to pay tribute to a guardian, grandmother, friend, philosopher, sage, comic. I wrote it as a part of a contest in my office and it found approval from some people. When I had envisioned it earlier, I would have perhaps written a lot more. But this is perfect.

 THE MOST INSPIRING WOMAN IN MY LIFE

 Every. Single. Morning. She wakes up to open the door for the maid, sharp at 6. All 80 years of wrinkled skin and creaky bones. The winter chills don’t freeze her. The warm blanket has no power over her. The monsoon dampness cannot peg her down. Each slow step has a resolve and a purpose. The arched back has an unknown source of strength. The hands find their support without the help of the weak eyes further weakened by the darkness and dim lights. Her day begins in this darkness, almost mocking the Sun for rising later than her.

At an age when she should waste her time savouring the sweet fruit of a tiresome life she has led, she has come out of retirement only to fulfill the promise she made to her dying daughter. Her solemn word was not to let her grandchildren ever feel orphaned or straying nomads without roots. With every small action, every small word, every small gesture and blessing, she still strives to fulfill that promise.

Her grandchildren use her as a punching bag; an outlet to their frustrations and disappointments. And when all is said and done, they still seek solace in her embrace, and peace in her quivering hand in their hair. Gods will be worshipped. Heroes will be praised. My grandmother will still remain far above them all. She will forever remain the benchmark against which I will measure myself.

DELTA 1

The Horror Of It All

It’s all going to the dogs. Everything is more heinous, more amplified, more disgusting. Scams are not in the hundreds of crores, they’re in the hundreds of thousands of crores. Politicians are not dimwitted, they’re fuckwitted. Sycophancy has made way for a disgusting pride filled slavery. Outrage has ceased to be meaningless and now has a veneer of fashionable impotence. Normalcy was once forced, but is now looked forward to with an anticipation that expedites it as much as it wants it.

The bone-chilling gang rape of a girl in Delhi has caused the entire country to unite for a common cause that, like corruption, goes beyond the petty boundaries of religion, class, race. And yet even in our unity, we remain selective. We choose not to highlight the horror of a four year old toddler who was raped, killed and thrown on the railway tracks. We choose to put our tears on display to perfection. The Delhi CM cried in an interview over this girl’s miserable plight. And yet her office also granted parole to a convicted killer who thought a girl’s life was only valuable if she served him drinks. For every Aarushi that became the poster girl for candle light vigils, a thousand more were lost in the same ashes they were born in, without any mention in as much as an obituary.

I tweeted that the rapists should be castrated to make them understand what ‘loss’ means, what it means to feel ‘powerless’. Will that really work? I’m just treating the symptoms. This wasn’t the first gang rape. It won’t be the last. It’s not about setting sights on a perceived weakling and taking advantage. The real animal lies in the BELIEF that you can do so. It lies in the CONVICTION that you have the right to. It lies in the FACT that you can do what you want and get away with it.

Men believe they can overpower a girl because they’re brought up as the stronger sex. Before they prove it, they’re told they hold the power and position of being the stronger ones. Those who are also taught the responsibility behind it grow up to become the cleaner face. Those who feed that power ultimately become its slave and morph into the vulgar face. It doesn’t stop there. The minute a son sees a father insulting his wife, talking trash to his sister or daughter, disrespecting his mother, he’s convinced his power gives him the right to behave and act as he pleases. That it’s his right to treat the women in the house a little better than slaves and to keep them under his thumb. That’s when things start getting ugly. He looks around and sees a system run by the corrupt. He sees that the police are the ones people actually need protection from, that they’ll sell themselves for a wad of notes stuffed in their pockets and mouths. He sees that even if he ‘may’ get arrested for his actions, he will be released on a paltry bail, he might pressurize the victim to drop the case, or in the worst case scenario, the case will take ages in the sewers of our rotten Justice system. The comfort of these facts is the steroid he needs to break free. The animal is unleashed.

And then there are the cynics. Oh God the cynics. Those aspiring stand-up comedians on twitter who think they’re the Superman of wit and humour. Who think that anything and everything can be made fun of. Who in their infinite wit and wisdom do not know that boundaries exist and need to be respected. Sometimes I genuinely wish harm on these jokers. I want them to be subjected to similar conditions and find humour in it. They’re joined by those doubters with a perennial question about intentions, actions and outcomes. The kind of people who take up the easiest job of demotivating those who believe. The kind of sadists who plant seeds of doubt in others’ minds and nurture them into poisonous fruit bearing vines.

One of these days it will come to a point where a single act will start a chain of event, a domino tipping another and shaping a pattern that will change the face of this nation forever. What face emerges, the cleaner or the vulgar, will depend on where you and I are at that moment, when we reclaim our country from these dogs. And we will have to be in the thick of the action because we’re accountable to our children, and their children too. Because sooner or later, they’re going to ask a single question with tears in their eyes that we better have an answer to.

They’re going to ask us how the hell did we fuck up so bad?

DELTA1

O Captain! My Captain!

Dear Balasaheb,

Rest in peace. Being a father to a state like Maharashtra for more than 4 decades must be very tiring. Standing up for the weak, helping the lost find their self esteem, taking up issues every one else was shit scared of even talking about and above all, being relentless in the pursuit of establishing, nourishing and propagating your ideology must be a hell of a job to be accomplished by a single man. Just imagining all this makes me want to quit and leave town. And yet, you did all that, and did it in a way that made you larger than life for us,   a Demi God of sorts.

The reactions to your death were polarizing, to say the least. People are saying that we are being ‘forced’ to mourn. How can you ‘force’ a son to mourn for his father? How is it possible for us NOT to feel it’s the end of the world when one of the pillars of our identity crashes? How naive can people get in their assumptions of others? As I’m typing these very words, there are an estimated 2 million people on the streets in Mumbai, just to pay their last respects to you. Are they being ‘forced’ to do that? Is it ‘fear’ that is driving them? Did someone stuff their pockets with a wad of notes and the promise of alcohol? Can people be this fuckwitted to question our emotions for you? I guess I can only answer the last question today – Yes.

The apathy today has reached a point where a person who’s just been in Mumbai for 2 odd years thinks he understands enough about you and the Shiv Sena’s ideology and Mumbai’s fabric to comment on your influence on us. For him the Shiv Sena is all about V-Day hooliganism and vandalism of controversial arts. Shiv Sena starts and ends there. He derides your politics because having a cultural identity is bad according to his highly developed, cultured, ‘liberal’ intellect. I don’t even pity him. He has ignored the most important fact of your life – fighting for those who couldn’t. He has ignored your fight to help regain the self-esteem of the ‘marathi manoos‘, who was being ridiculed in his own home as a ‘ghaati‘. He has ignored the fact that right at this moment, Kashmiri Pandits are mourning your death as much as we Maharashtrians because they revere what you did for them. He has ignored that had it not been for you, Mumbai would be run over by Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and he wouldn’t have a place to dry his underwear. I bet he was shit scared when Mumbai was attacked on 26/11. I bet his dimwitted, warped intelligence and pathetic grasp of the situation won’t allow him to understand the havoc those illegal immigrants could have caused. For him, all these issues are irrelevant because they don’t affect people like him living in high rises. For him it’s just a matter of opposing anything anyone does which is outside the established and approved thinking and actions, benchmarks of which have been decided by a handful of elitist socialite columnists and ‘intellectuals’. Like these people, he doesn’t understand nor care about the common Mumbaikar who actually goes through this. And when the time comes to right the wrongs, these elitists are nowhere to be found, even when people bang on their doors and beg them to come out and do something as simple as cast their votes. He, like the people he draws his twisted view of the world from, are willing to defend defamation of my Gods being passed as ‘art’, but is cold blooded enough not to feel anger that my Gods were made the subjects of said ‘art’. Little does he realize that had that artist used his own religion’s prophet as a subject of his paintings, the backlash would’ve been near fatal. He prides himself in Hinduism’s freedom, and yet does nothing when that very freedom is abused and humiliated.

I too have demons of my own to slay. I didn’t agree with your protests and vandalism of V-Day. What Marathi youngsters today lack are a proper education about our culture and it’s strength, virtues and values. That is just bad parenting, more than anything else. That coupled with how V-Day is marketed (a way to express your love for your girlfriend / boyfriend, rather than a universal expression of love) is why that day is eagerly waited upon by youngsters. To target them physically won’t solve problems. And yet, more than that, I’m eternally grateful to you for often doing what I was too much of a coward to do. Like when I wanted to but couldn’t defend my religion, or when I wanted Mumbai to breathe again and not be subjected to the hordes of illegal immigrants. That is my solace. That is my redemption. Knowing and understanding what you did, and being able to see what it meant for the average Maharashtrian. Perhaps that’s the reason why today out of the 2 million grown ass, hardened people on the roads that are crying their hearts out for you, none are the typical page 3 mourners. On your last journey, you’re surrounded by the people you loved and fought for, and who loved you back. For all of us, you are the hero we needed and the hero we deserved.

I have a sneeky feeling that people hate you just because all your life you said and did what they could say in the comforts and anonymity of their living rooms and the internet. They too wanted to use cuss words in public, berate the corruption riddled, blood sucking government, but couldn’t find an ounce of courage to do it. And when you did it, their coached civility and the shepherds who herded them forbade them from applauding you, and their instructions manual asked them to condemn you. Such is the inbred hypocrisy around here that while you were targetted as being communal, MPs in Hyderabad walked, and continue to walk scott free after giving hate speeches on a daily basis. Such is the sycophancy today that while people worship the feet of the family that was forced down their throats, your’s is called a Mafia family and we, your followers are labelled blind whose ‘intelligence is hijacked by hormones’ (sic).

A hypnotist who ruled the subconsciousness of an entire state, a strategist who fought in the trenches and checkmated kings in their own courts, an orator who mesmerized millions, a leader who was as relentless as he was astute, Maharashtra’s Tiger who when sprang his claws drew blood, without the slightest care for opinion or votes. Words fail me to describe what you meant to this state, how burdened we are by your debt to us, and how disturbed at the thought that try as we might we won’t be able to fully repay you for what you’ve done for us. To quote Walt Whitman -

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

DELTA1