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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Monophobia 6 : Saving Grace

=========================================
Saving Grace

Leaping life in waking air
And trembling tendrils in its care
Remind the moon
In cold cocoon
Of all that's fond, of all that's fair.

Everywhere, the dewdrops' grief
Gives new life to bud and leaf
And ancient eyes
Of new surprise
Open again in warm relief.

Sun and mist, in playful chase --
Soft caress, and strength, ablaze,
On heavens breast --
Are sweetly blessed
By tired morning's fawning gaze.
=========================================

Hat-tip to the butterfly people.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Monophobia 5 : Singularity

=================================
Singularity

Canvas over the thinnest bones
Of that which used to be
Carries tales of preening tongues
That claim to have known me.

No hard feelings, stories old,
And names, no offence meant!
History repeats, for destiny,
Is cruelly, again, dealt.
=================================

There's something beautiful about small poems. Something... matter-of-fact and peaceful, I think.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Monophobia 4 : Insomnia

===========================================
Insomnia

My kind of folk sure relate --
Tunnel-end vision, it's all going great,
Clips and clicking,
Tick-tock and ticking,
So fond of the game I can't think straight.

We wanted a bite, but it's too late --
My phone's already on a different date;
We're betting on the bookie
For a midnight cookie,
Too fond of the life to be thinking straight.

You were warned many times but it's your fate --
You bit off too much, now chew your plate.
The night is young,
We're all high-strung,
Too deep in love to be thinking straight.
===========================================

Sorry for the last line, people with girlfriends and boyfriends and shit. This poem is about staying up late with friends, LAN gaming and snacking on junk food. What is love?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Monophobia 3 : Freak

====================================
Freak

Mother's boy, don't hate her bed;
For it's there, when men are gone,
That blood is shed and the world is born.

Moonlit incantations rise --
Forbidden words, in rings of trees --
The world can breathe, in precious peace.

Be it weapon or a tool
She and it will cleanse it all
And Mother's boy, boy will you fall.

====================================

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Monophobia 2 : Brightness/Contrast

===========================================
Brightness/Contrast

The smell of light burns so strong, that
Dark minds feel unseen;
Laughter rings so commonplace, that
Sadness feels unclean.

Fire reigns, and prideful heat
Lets no frost feel love.
Souls ensconced in fireworks
See no stars above.

The walls erupt in happiness.
Tears will stay away
Lest they douse your Catherine Wheels,
Lest they ruin your day.
===========================================

Diwali, depression and dogs.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Monophobia 1 : Legacy

========================================
Legacy

Why do these keep coming back, Mummy?
Why won't they leave me alone?
There's a ton of things that I've gotta do
And the King of the World is on the phone!

I've had too many a heartbreak, Mummy,
And it's been a very long day;
It was hard to believe the numb machines
But I think I'm going their way.

I thought you'd touched my forehead, Mummy,
And I reached out to hold your hand
But your hand just changed to fairy tales
And you, to dreamland.

Mummy, it's a whole new world away,
But I've told the boys around here
That my Mummy is precious, and ferocious too,
And they've Heaven and Hell to fear.
========================================

There's Doctor Who, Pikachu, Batman, Runescape, Durgapur and CMI behind this poem. Don't ask.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

And this our life, exempt from public haunt...

==================================
Build

Nought for reading, one to learn,
Two for who knows what, and fun.
Three for testing some new thing,
Four for shocks the thing could bring.
Five for when you love your mother.
Six for when you'd like another.
Seven because there is still hope.
Eight because one hit, no scope.

And after eight, where machines end,
A human being may find a friend.
==================================

Sunday, October 16, 2016

So The Series Isn't Over

Not too proud of this, but posting it anyway.

================================================
Whiskey Man

Young man, it's closer than you remember
To the last time you liked September.
And, young man, though I don't drink,
I can be stronger than you think.
You like less meat on food and girls --
Limited spirits, spirited curls;
You like your Goddesses void of strength--
Not far too torn, nor too bent.

And old man! You've been in wars!
They came on foot, they came in cars!
You have seen your Goddess bleeding
Over a corpse, in urgent feeding;
She carried you through wind and frost
Away from battles safer lost.
She lived when you were left for dead,
She lived when you died in her bed.

And so young blood has never boiled
To see a Goddess torn and soiled!
And old blood, drained of desire,
Has learnt to think his love is higher.
Ever since, the Goddess, hidden,
Has watched herself become forbidden.
But say, old man, when she's not there,
Whiskey will take you anywhere.
================================================

Monday, October 10, 2016

Bijoya

Maa, it has been a while since the lights went off. The people have packed, and last night will be over soon. Not much happens -- yet, every time it does, it leaves a gaping hole inside me. You are supposed to inspire strength -- and yet you leave me so weak. I, they say, was given life by you -- yet all I feel is my life leaving slowly.
Did I waste our precious fortnight on being happy, Maa? Should I have been angry instead? Should I have been pure, unwavering, unafraid; and would it have got me all I want?
Maa, this year too, I have failed to be the slightest shadow of you. I have feared. I have loved. I have cried. I have lost, to your cosmos and your plans. Who am I fighting against, Maa, and for who? Where are my demons, and do my Gods even know that I exist?
Your way might, after all, not be mine, Maa. The collected patience, the inspired courage, the flawless adherence to the essence of yourself -- it all could be too much for me. And yet, a change of path is not an option -- because you, because me, and because who else will?
I will try again next year -- there will be another swing at inspired strength and other such malarkey from your collection. You can sit on my head and inspire me, and I will try not to cry.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Just some poetry

==================================
Nightscape

Stolid purple, golden hued --
In richness and in grace, imbued
With eternal light.
Trees in moonlight, midnight past:
Like old memory fading fast,
Etched in black and white.

Dimly flaming dungeon path,
Monochrome in aftermath.
Might, unsatiated.
Flashing red, the battle cry
Slashes silver -- one last try!
Flesh, unsaturated.
==================================

Yet again, we died; and yet again, we refused to grow up.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Shorts 4

After a spell of being extremely partial to verse, I have, with the necessary discomfort of familiar change, returned to prose for a while, via another edition of the primarily crowdsourced cue-word based Shorts series. I went through the topics suggested by readers, and have written on two of them  -- these make the first and the third pieces in this post. The second piece in this post is, again, a cue-word I picked myself (Valor and Mystic may or may not follow).

Now, as per tradition, I introduce the contributors of, respectively, the first and third cue-words:
  • Aditya, an undergraduate student in CMI, a year my junior. A nondescript man from the nondescript town of Akola, Maharashtra, not much is known of this newcomer except for his unhealthy obsessions with certain (at least three) seniors. In the sphere of mundane details, one can confirm that he enjoys sports (like Volleyball!), likes certain foods (Domino's, Choco Pie, Milano, Amul Kool), and indulges in the mental and pseudo-physical challenges of, respectively, AoPS and Counterstrike.
  • Shriyank, of For Shark and Nushki fame, an important friend (and unpaid basketball coach) from my Hem Sheela days. An intelligent man who fought convention to study Humanities, Shriyank was my partner and/or opponent in many a debate, elocution, and schoolyard skirmish -- a tradition we now continue in keyboard wars. Shriyank has a keen taste in culture, literature, rhetoric and humour. He now enjoys growing success in MUNs, and in other Humanities things that the puny Mathematical mind struggles to comprehend.
The third piece is not short in the strictest sense, but I hope that the extra shortness of the first two will compensate.

---------------------

Almost

Your wins are no match for Providence. You would think that a step in the right direction would be worth something, but no. You would think that pretending to be strong, over and over and over again, would finally make you invincible, but no!
There were some who were supposed to live, over and over and over again, and inspire the disciples of metal and grease -- and yet, there they were, left laughing at how ironic the circumstances were. To think that death would come in the form of known loves, to think that the end would be in metal and grease, to think that that is how Paul would go...!

[To Paul Walker, 12/9/1973 - 30/11/2013]

---------------------

Instinct

In the stillness of night, O Master, the world is your picnic ground. The shade is your safe space; the wind is your blanket; and the beating of insects' wings, your music. The path of time that moves is hidden from you in the dark, and the marshland misted from your vision by the silver waters of kings. Far beyond present company, O Master, sacred ground is trodden in your name, and you know it -- and knowing it, you smile, all of ten years, you little angel, you...!

---------------------

Tampon

The time was evening, and the market streets of the small industrial town bustled under lamplight and feet. One pair of these belonged to our hero, who now shuffled along the alleyways purposefully. The streetlights occasionally illuminated his face and costume -- those of an office-goer in his late twenties, raised mundane (conservative?) and middle-class but hurled, gingerly but willingly, into liberalism and its oddities, which included his present task.
Thirty years ago, and perhaps even today to lesser (he felt) men, this task would be daunting and repulsive. He remembered his first time -- how he felt embarrassed and (this one the neo-liberal hated to admit) emasculated. But our hero had learnt that love conquers all, and fighting any residual inhibitions he had was now a labour of love.
This time, however, the task had altered just enough to be intriguing. Unlike the more old-fashioned subject (calling people objects is medieval, J.B.!) of his daily affection, this other devotee of the purple all-nighters was in the middle of attempting what she called The T-Switch -- a paradigm shift worthy of the strong independent woman that this little shit claimed to be. This infernal youngster, more than ten years junior to the girlfriend and him, had decided that she would throw off her apprehension, protest against superstition about virginity, avail herself of comfort in sport and uninhibited swimming... and all in all make both a personal journey and a political statement in her pants, once a month. Only this afternoon, this destroyer of his peace had arrived, and promptly informed the older sister of her monthly troubles (don't call them that, J.B., there's no shame in saying period!). Accordingly, the well-memorized thirty-character string was put on the way-back-home shopping list, only to be promptly removed and replaced by a whole new kind of product -- available, the older female somehow knew, at just one store in the vicinity, (conveniently?) closer to his return route than hers.
Hence our hero now strode, some ninety steps out of his usual way, past numerous shops lined with rainbows of pads, to that one store that stocked the needs of the slightly up-and-coming, in an attempt to woo the growing mall crowd back to the markets -- Hershey's syrup, Oreo cookies, mayonnaise and, in a shelf placed half-hidden in a corner (unlike the pads displayed in full view) five lonely, nondescript packs of tampons, all the same J&J-owned brand.
Now, as a man who bought pads, our hero was used to it all -- the usual vulgar provocations that his female friends knew all too well, plus off-handed comments due to his gender -- all about his perversion, the character of the woman who sent him out, and his speculated relationship with her. Yet, he thought as he walked home with 20 Regulars and 10 Supers, it had never been so much like a drug deal before. Moments after the shopkeeper had handed a pad pack in a brown bag to a woman beside him, our protagonist had walked up with practised ease and detachment, and discreetly pointed to the tampon shelf. To his surprise, the shopkeeper, all while speaking to other customers, had pushed a bag over to him and signalled him to help himself, and then to place the money on the counter and leave -- they had never exchanged a word!
For some reason, J.B., tampons are more scandalous than pads in a country that is slowly coming to terms with the naturalness of menstruation. Yes, somehow, he felt more judgement in buying them, a bigger accusation of perversion, a greater sense of dirt and wrong -- and the more he thought of it, the more he agreed with the young blot that her Switch was, if she wanted it to be, a very viable political statement. After all, you see J.B., they go inside -- and the worst thing a woman can do is put something inside. Inside, thought our hero as he walked home -- the inside we all came from, the inside to be constantly claimed by men and yet deemed tainted by the same men; the inside that allegedly changed so much under penetration that it was imperative to compare tampons and penises... he believed the brat now, actually. It was totally possible, in this country, for an 'educated' boy to have left her over tampons; believing, via an almost criminal amount of ignorance (our hero felt), that it diminished his masculinity and her 'purity' when 'his woman' puts something else up there. It was also possible, actually, for a mother to have slapped a daughter over wanting to try tampons, fearing she was 'knowing certain things' -- though this second one, he was relieved, was a story of her friend, and had not happened to the precious little sister... of his girlfriend, technically.
In his head, though, the young feminist's J.B. (gangsta for Jamaibabu... how did she come up with this stuff?), had dropped the '-in-law' a long time ago. Next time, he thought to himself, he'd ask for the tampons, in words. That'd be fun to watch, and he'd have a story for the blighted little bleeder...

---------------------

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Adulthood 9 : Transition

=============================
Transition

Ways of folks in Village Old
Lie shrouded in mystique --
It takes much more than wispy you
To find that which you seek.

There'll be a day when Hands and Feet,
By old time cruelly kissed,
Will give; and so Ignited Mind
Will drown in fog and mist.

So run this road of merry laughs
And loves and wistful cries, for
Like all Things that came before,
There'll be a day it dies.
=============================

End of series. Just as I was hoping, the number of poems is the same as in Childhood.
Thank you for reading!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Adulthood 8 : Safety

Some selfishness is mandatory.

=========================
Safety

Some water is blue,
Some water is green,
Some water is golden;
Who knows if it's clean?
Some water is black, for
That's all it's ever seen.
Some water is grey, because
That's how it's always been.

Yet water is just water
It has no colour true.
Water will be anything
You want, just for you.
=========================

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Adulthood 7 : Compromise

Aah life.

==========================
Compromise

Perspective shifts.
The sky exchanges gifts
With those that walk the earth.

Today, I dare say,
I'll take the earth's way
Though it is not mine.

Taking life and spark,
The earth keeps my mark --
And so, freely, I give.

Absorbing all we find,
The earth, to me, will bind --
And so, freely, I live.
==========================

Monday, August 29, 2016

Adulthood 6 : Method

================================
Method

You will fight your monsters, yet
There will be no lasting help
For your hungry, sleepless night.
Mother was always right.

You will stay behind to lose
Bloodless battles not your own
To unfair, unworthy might --
Mother was always right.

You will meet your angels, and
They will show you ways, but still
Don't let yourself out of sight:
Mother was always right.
================================

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Adulthood 5 : Call To Order

Ah academic frustration, you inspirational thing.

===============================
Call To Order

In control of their lives
In the morning through the night
Of all the best of luck to all
Those who have been working right

Eight months in a year ago;
And I don't think I have to be
This, the only thing I have
To stop the bleeding, certainly.

Not at all the best regards
To those whom it may best concern.
I will have only the best
Of everything the wise discern.

What the problem is or was
Is no longer a mighty cause.
Hereafter it's day to day, now
You decide, you are the boss.
===============================

The dedication is left as an exercise.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Adulthood 4 : Routine

=============================
Routine

Snow white, star bright,
Looking in the mirror:
Girl, find your lights;
Keep them nearer

Nights of colours --
There's no prevention.
If it cures you,
Girl, pay attention.

Girl, your daybreak
Needs no sunrise.
Find your own peace --
Your winds will rise;

Drop by drop, girl,
Rise from your ocean;
Dance your bloodlust --
Be superhuman.
=============================

So I am noob. So what? Not gonna give up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Adulthood 3 : Actuality

More adulthood.

==============================
Actuality

Frankly speaking, human soul,
You will never be machine --
Never precise, forever flawed,
Blurred, scarred, never pristine.

Turn you must, soft soldier mine,
Flat and squat between the cogs;
And never will you be fighting truth
Behind Barbies and Golliwogs

And yet, my sweetest, sleepless self,
Forever and ever will you be strong
For the dead are at your feet
And the dead are never wrong.
==============================

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Adulthood 2 : Innovation

Continuing the series.

===============================
Innovation

I smell the rain-washed soil
Of a prehistoric earth;
My bed, a giant fern;
My fellows, giants that came before all;
My friends, microscopic masters
Of life, disease and death.
From the throbbing, pregnant earth
There rises the nascent sun
Red with original sin.

After extinction
A new faith takes birth --
You and I discover
Electricity.
===============================

I must admit, I love misleading my audience.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Adulthood 1 : Dearth

New series. If you are failing at adult-ing, and overall being a through-and-through stinky poo, might as well get something deep out of it. Meh.

===============================================
Dearth

Unwashed woman:
Did you ever check how foul
You smell
Or how tired you look?
Women are wary of you
And tired, sweaty men,
(Perfectly good men, attracted to you!)
Are disgusted when they come close.
Woman, you are unclean;
You come back every night
Smelling of a different man
And the occasional nightly drink.
You look stale, spent, used -- and you are.
Stale, spent, used, that is.
Need you have given yourself
To every man (and woman!)
Who had asked for you,
Who had asked of you,
Who had just, just asked?

Need you have told the boy
That he could come again,
Need you have told the man
That he could call again,
Need you have told the two women
That your doors were always open?
Need you, woman, come to your bed
Smelling of tears that you do not own,
Reeking of sweat from others' troubles
Slathered in laughter you extracted
Out of the mouths of adolescents?
Need you, sister, mother, lover, wife?

Be, above all,
Woman, woman.
Take a bath, brush your teeth, comb your hair;
Or next time, he won't look.
Next time, she won't come.
Next time, he won't call, she won't hug,
He will find another lap and shoulder,
You will not save any more men,
You will not help any more men,
You will not make any more women feel loved
Or any more children feel
Like a man or a woman;
Next time
They will find someone who loves themselves
Better.
(Yes, again,
Again they come to you, but
Surely not next time?)

Woman, how can you do it?
Unwashed, unclean, and uncaring
Your hair in knots (they might as well be short!),
Your feet un-groomed (they could be so pretty!),
Your body reeking (fetishized, but still!),
Your brain sleep-deprived (you know what they think?) --
How can you bear
The burden of pains
Entirely not your own
Night
After night after night (like some common woman)
And still be woman (even human maybe)!

Suppose then, stubborn woman, 
That you can and you do;
That your body odour somehow has something to do
With saved lives, healed hearts, and such --
But still, woman
Must you reek of those whose pains
Are not the ones I tell you of?
Must I feel them run through you?
Should you not hide them away?
And while we are at it, woman,
Must you always, each and every night,
Smell of that stale caffeine?
===============================================

Unrealistic expectations of emotional labour from female and feminine-presenting people; notions of symbolic purity; marginalisation of the 'unclean' woman. Go.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I think this qualifies as poetry

This poem was written at a rather low point. The circumstances are too private to reveal -- but I am glad to declare that they are over (persons in question are alive and well), and that now I have the courage to post this.

This one is not quite meant to be read from text, since it was written to be recited -- nonetheless, here goes.

==============================================
Big Dreams

Tell me destiny is
Where it pleases
Me the most
Where it ceases
To be the denouement
Of everything you're meant to be;
Tell me
That it's flexible,
That it is still feasible
To fix what's not quite broken yet;
Tell me I need not fret --
No worries about your health;
Tell me: destiny is dealt
To those that are weaker --
But you, you're a seeker
Of greater things in life!
Oh tell me, if you must,
That you'll take the picket fence,
Children, dog, husband, wife --
But not this!
Not the Kiss
Of the Dementor
Not collapsing so hard
Right, front and centre
That this is where you go.
You were grand, you were brave,
But now you've gone and sunk so low.
Tell me what to say
'Cos I don't know any more,
So,
Come back, angel, if you can,
Back where you belong
In the song
Of the sweet
And the righteous
In the ranks
Of the fighters
Tell me it's just a nightmare
That inside you, somewhere,
There is still the trusty mate,
The whitest wings! No twist of fate
Could make you turn around
On the dreams
That we had
Tell me
That I
Can still count
On that.
==============================================

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Throwback to the Childhood Series

It's been a while since I came to CMI and dedicated the Childhood series to the new people I met. It's reminiscence time and, with the new, I'm dedicating this to the newer.

================================================
Childhood Revisited (Happy New Year)

Concreteness may crumble soon --
Yet, on lazy afternoons
There'll be ghosts that nights once held
And music old, unparalleled!
New mothers will weep and worry,
And new liars will stop being sorry;
New parties on newer nights
Will hide new darkness with old lights;
Newer, taller tales conjured
Will help new dreams feel uninjured.
Higher, silent beauty, still,
Will bring comfort no faith will;
And the sunrise, warm as ever
Will be wise, and soft, and clever;
We'll dust the diaries off the shelves
And give, from fights we fought ourselves,
Uncalled advice, fast and loose!
All we know now put to use,
And borrowed time, now paid forward --
Sleep, new childhood! We stand guard.
================================================

Freshers, welcome.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Shorts 3

This edition of Shorts contains two cue words from readers and one of my own. More cues for writing about are, as always, invited.

The third cue is the one I gave myself. The contributors behind the first two, in order of appearance, are:

  • Bishal, an undergraduate student at CMI, a year my senior. He is also a rare male among my fellow Carmelites -- an alumnus of one of the few co-educational Carmel schools in the country. His focus of study lies in Mathematics, and he edits an online English-Assamese Science/Maths magazine called Gonit Sora. In leisure, Bishal is spotted obsessing over superheroes, movies, the occasional anime, and beautiful women.
  • Arijit, the Head Boy of Hem Sheela in the term succeeding Nihal's and mine. A Xaverian and student of Commerce, Arijit has a keen taste for oratory and politics, especially political satire. He enjoys non-fiction literature, and is a steady source of world news for anyone who cares to ask. When not sending John Oliver videos and Onion articles to anyone who is online, Arijit is known to drool over Bengali, Punjabi and Mughal cuisine.
To all my readers, as always, I request feedback about my attempts.

--------------------------

Petrichor

There is beauty to the nameless. Also, there is freedom in the lack of warmth and care and love. Sometimes, I think that to be free means to be cold and icy forever. The day you didn't listen to your mother who was worried that you would get a cold -- were you not free? Did you not live that day? Did you not sail boats, did you not hide your tears in the rain, did you not let the water seep through your smile and into your guilty gullet -- rainwater should not be drunk... acid rain... death...? Who cares? Wouldn't you die, if it meant you felt? Would you not leave, if it meant you loved? Would you not cry for a year to feel pure joy for but a day? Are standards so important that we must restrict the beautiful and define the transcendental?
I know three languages, and I could name you in only one -- and so you were home, heart, freedom, memory, soul. But then they had to go and find your English name. They had to define you in the language of slavery and classism and officialdom. They had to internationalise you, make you universal, viral across the internet as another 'relatable' post. And the moment they did that, you were no longer mine.
Yes, the word we use is perfect music -- but did we have to define what we meant, petrichor? Did we have to become public property, shared information, dictionary entry, spelling-bee question? Tell me, petrichor, were we not better without a name?

--------------------------

Rahul Gandhi

Isn't he cuddly?
He is fair (them Italian genes, daadi-gasm!), light-eyed, dimply and a subtle demagogue -- perfect for Prime Minister. So why did he lose?
The answer lies in what we look for in our teddy bears -- do we want a runty teddy that makes squishy noises, or a big furry one that makes gurgly ones? We want our teddies like we want our demagogues -- unashamed in what they do, which is hug and befriend everyone, in every country, at all times. We don't mind if a teddy is a bit old and torn and scary, we still like the bigger teddy. We like confident teddies who are not timid to shoo away the green-white monster under our beds. We like teddies who can coo to the dollies and gollies of other lands and bring us many, many sweets (while calling them by their first names) -- and, most importantly, we want a teddy that is ours. We want our teddy unbeholden to their own Bearclans, and we want them to have bellies big enough to hide two-thirds of HoneyLand's cubs underneath. We want them to save moo-moos and hide Barbies away from bad things -- and RaGa Bear can't do any of this! He can only smile at ladybears and tell us that things will be okay! The janta no longer maafs their teddies for being squishy! We want gurgle, we want muscle, we want prickle, we want Mudi!
Sorry RaGa, but Mudi Bear is our chief. Isn't he bearfect? *glomp*

--------------------------

Stone

Moulded beautifully in flow after flow, in a place where no man dares venture, there lives a solitary wall of stone. Millions of years ago it was soft tissue, throbbing with life, until weight and heat and time turned it hard, dark and, most importantly, potent. As a mass of living cells, the stone would never have lit the fires that it now could. It would never have conjured warmth and spark and war from nothing, like it did now. In losing the flow of life through its body, the stone gained the veneration that is due to the powerful.
As flesh that it was, it lived. As stone that it is, it is loved.

--------------------------

Monday, June 20, 2016

Shorts 2

As I requested in the previous post, my LoudSpeak Listeners have come up with more cue-words for me to write about. Admittedly, not all of these are very short, but compared to the 1500+ words of rants I come up with when left to myself, I'd say they were microscopic.

The pioneering cue-word contributors of this series are:

  • Sonakshi, a Physics research scholar from my college (CMI) who also happily turned out to have been associated with an activity from my far past -- The Statesman Voices. When not Physics-ing, Sonakshi paints and takes wonderful photographs, mostly natural compositions within the CMI campus. Since my first semester at CMI, she has been one of the regular supporters of my literary adventures.
  • Nihal, a recurring character in this blog, who I believe needs no introduction to regular readers. To newcomers: Nihal volunteered with the Students' Council of HSMS when I was already a member, in Class 11. In Class 12, Nihal and I earned the top posts in the Council, those of Head Boy and Head Girl respectively. Let's just say he wasn't as bad as I thought he was. Across time and space, though no longer colleagues, we remain great friends.
  • Ashmita-di, who I am yet to meet in real life. I know her through her mother who, as a teacher in HSMS, was instrumental to my short student life there. Ma'am introduced me to her daughter because she thought the interaction might be fruitful -- and so it was (only to me, I'm afraid) since Ashmita-di patiently reads everything I post and leaves me advice.
The following are my attempts at expanding their cue-words, in the order in which they are named.

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Pencil Box

Sometime in high school, I realised that if I wanted, my mother would buy me that fancy quadruple-decker that came with sharpener and eraser-case, and also magnet, compass, pinball, vacuum cleaner, AK-47. When changing schools in Class 11, she asked me to get a good pencil box for the new school, and I knew that financially, it was no big deal to ask for a properly swanky version of the utility (as long as I didn't ask too often). Yet the swanky pencil box never happened, for there was a snag -- I was way too attached to my (t)rusted free gift from Horlicks. For ages, I carried it through school years and board exams. I leaked ink into it until the stains wouldn't go, I hoarded pencil shavings and spent refills in it during my phase of making art with them; its lid was always the makeshift water holder when we 'legally bunked' class to paint charts for school events. My teachers and fellow students made fun of me for carrying it around and not getting a new one, leaving no holds barred including jabs at my socio-economic status -- and I wondered how I would have felt if I really couldn't afford a new pencil box, and how their behaviour contradicted everything we were taught in school about judging people by how fancy their things were.
Eventually, though carried to college and kept as a box for sketch pens and post-its, the old Horlicks box, now discoloured beyond recognition from the old blue-orange-silver and sports pictures, was finally too beaten up to hold its own against the most basic of travel bumps -- and, guilty of spilling all my stationery into my bag about twenty times (and being too small to hold new grown-up things like a stapler and binder clips which I'd never owned separately from my mother's stash before), the Horlicks box was replaced by a double-decker procured by Maa from Navalur -- a neutral-coloured one with an easily removable (as I promptly did) silly sticker. The new one now accompanies me on every academic trip, and is proudly set beside my pillow in ISI Kolkata, basking in glory that I know to be superficial. The old one sits somewhere in my cupboard in CMI, waiting for me to return to it, as we both know I always will.

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Debt

debt. noun.
noun: debt; plural noun: debts.
  • a sum of money that is owed or due. "Nihal paid off his debts to me for last week's Diet Chewda and juice". synonyms: bill, account, money owed, amount due.
  • (in -- debt) the state of owing money. "Nihal bought me ice-cream, so now I am in his debt for ten rupees." synonyms: owing money, in arrears, overdrawn. antonyms: in credit.
  • a feeling of gratitude for a service or favour. "I would like to acknowledge my debt to my friend and former colleague Nihal Singh, for being a steadfast sounding board in tumultuous times, for pushing himself to learn a new job, and succeeding spectacularly in cutting in half the phenomenal workload I had come to expect would be mine as Head Girl of HSMS. While a Head Boy did exist, sorry, buddy, but I underestimated you grossly. I underestimated you as a colleague and as a friend, despite having seen the lengths you go to when you put your mind to something (the poor Samsung Champ still weeps at times) -- jokes apart, while life in CMI and its ups and downs may put you out of my mind at times, you are remembered every time I rally a group of people to get something done, because the best times spent doing that job were as a team, with you. Lives do grow larger, with new knowledge and adventure, new achievements and pitfalls -- for that is in the nature of lives; and try as we may, friendships sometimes spread themselves a bit thin over life's ever-expanding canvas. Yet, a daub here and there via the occasional reunion is enough to prevent it from ripping altogether, given that we hold dear the insurmountable debt that comes with being comrades-in-arms and partners-in-crime, a debt that transcends all repayment, all definition, all clarification. As J.K. Rowling aptly writes (of the lead trio in Harry Potter): 'There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.' While I'd not go so far as to compare our adversaries in Council work with mountain trolls, I dare say that the daily grind and frustration of the rather thankless work we had was another of those friendship-cementing things Rowling mentions." synonyms: obligation, liability, gratitude, appreciation, thanks. "I learned much by working with you, and grew much in having you as my friend -- and so you have my lasting gratitude. As I do every year from time to sentimental time, I now wish you good luck for your life in the years to come -- and since there will be no better chance (I have probably exhausted my creative appreciation skills for the week), I wish you a happy birthday in advance. Thanks for everything, buddy! (Fist-bump)"
------------------------------

Apathy

There are those that are blinded by light, and those that are afraid of the dark, and then there are those whose eyes are forever closed to external stimuli -- not the physical eye, perhaps; no, there seems to be no difficulty in paying the rickshaw-puller, answering emails, fixing a meal, making the bed... and at some point paying the rickshaw-puller again -- but the eye that can find light in souls brighter than one's own, the eye that can selfishly pick out the dark souls to shun for the fear of losing one's own brightness, is glossed over in disuse.
These curiously afflicted ones are creatures of the twilight -- they have minds like empty fields, where unfounded machinations grow. They create emotion for sport and necessity (for they have forgotten how to feel them), to store and use in perfect wisdom. Warmth and touch and ice and flowers are all products of the machine that churns out existence, cog grinding on dreary cog, gliding on the vast knowledge of all that is to be felt in order to be human, in order to make others feel just enough to let you live. There is routine, rules, destinations, deadlines -- and so all can see -- but deep beneath the surface of the creature's mind, unseen to all the world, a perverse glory begins to fester. The creature that is stoic to the world swells inside, the glory of knowing all rising until the superficial joy of understanding the known no longer excites. The shoulders stay squared, the chin stays up, the eyes stay bright and the smile shines like there's no tomorrow -- for so the machine crafts the creature's skin, for so the machine knows the creature has to be -- and so the creature lives, quietly swelling with the glory of impervious nothingness.
At times, of course, there are breaches -- holes that break containment and let in frivolities like seeing, believing, liking, loving, dissecting, debating, understanding -- they are quickly filled in with wisdom, of course, for they are no match for the machine and all the things it knows.

------------------------------

Much thanks to the cue-word providers, and I hope I have done justice to your ideas. As always, more ideas are invited.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Shorts

This post is based on the idea of abstractly expanding from a single word or a short phase taken as cue. It is part writing practice, part slice-of-life commentary. For the first post of what I hope becomes a series, my cue words are 'hope', 'love' and 'hurt'. More cue words are invited from readers.

--------------------------
Hope

I hoped that these were the voices. I hoped that it meant nothing. I was sure that, on thinking rationally, I'd change my mind. But no: this was real, this was starkly true. This was happening. It wasn't the voices, it was me; and, try as I might, I wasn't about to change my mind.

--------------------------
Love

There are some people who do not always love the same. They love in bits and pieces, because they know bits and pieces so much better than they know the whole and the healthy. Their love is post-apocalyptic -- it comes in urgent bursts and goes in apathy; it is true when it is the need of the hour, and a sleeping giant otherwise.

--------------------------
Hurt

My body hurts, my mind hurts, everything I ever knew hurts. I'm not telling anyone about this and it hurts, it hurts that I'm not allowed to hurt, that if I hurt I'm going to be made fun of, that the ideas of what it means to be strong are so strong and so wrong that the strong are right and those who hurt are wrong. Wrong, because they are of no use. Wrong, because the world will not notice them gone. Wrong, because when you go to sleep, tired, your heroes stand guard -- and these heroes are never wrong, never hurt -- they are, always and forever, strong.

--------------------------

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Journeyistics

My latest wallpaper is air-travel themed. Keeping with the new standards it is 1920x1080, and as usual the full-size file is available on request.
Wallpaper 64 : Journey (Air)

There is extensive use of stock photos in this one: the planes are directly from stocks, and the trails are traced with help from stocks. The figure on the left is built from two stocks (a person with backpack and trolley bag, doctored to have a bigger trolley obtained from a different stock figure) and then edited manually (ye olde brush and eraser) to look, um, vaguely familiar. The picture in the middle, though, is not at all a stock and is built from scratch using only brushes, gradients, filters and shapes/paths, etc. ie. entirely in Photoshop.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dino's on a Roll

A bit of tweaking an existing piece never hurt anyone.
Wallpaper 63: Dino Summer Slurp
As always, full size files available on request.

Monday, May 30, 2016

My First 1920x1080 Wallpaper

I wanted to make wallpapers for bigger screens ever since I graduated out of my 1024x768 desktop computer. I went through a whole another laptop, still making wallpapers of the old size because I couldn't habituate myself to the new ratio. Finally, having a 1920x1080 laptop, most of my own wallpapers were getting difficult to use, and this summer I decided to make another attempt at making a bigger wallpaper. I had two half-started ideas that I tried to take up again, but then went off in another direction.
Full disclosure: I started with some ground and sky with a horizon, but soon it became a dinosaur's back in my head. The weather outside turned gloomy so my originally cheery background turned gloomy too.
The final result is something like my typical old work, but hopefully better.
So, here's Wallpaper 62, the pioneer in my 1920x1080 series.
Wallpaper 62: Dino Winter Gloom
As before, while the images uploaded give you the right ratios, they are often not the right dimensions. Blogger's auto-compression has different effects on different images (depending on the file size) and I keep it on to consume less internet. Full-size/better resolution/alternate sizes are all available on request. Where possible alternate aspect ratios are also available. Depending on how much work it takes me to provide them, the on-request files are usually free, but not always.
Feedback about the design is always appreciated.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

This Is Officially A Series Now

====================================
Family Man

I stopped on my way home,
Thought I'd go back to bring you along --
The faithful turn their backs sometimes
So I thought you might be alone;

But no, you'd found a better life --
No gory deaths, no pointless strife.
I must admit it all seems nice,
Health and safety-wise.

I thought I'd climb a tree
Or crouch down on one knee
To get a better look at what it was
That you had and not me;

And yes, you'd found a finer life
The kids, the dog, the trophy wife
And it looks perfectly nice
From up here in the skies.

====================================

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

For Shark and Nushki

[Crossposted from this Facebook note, written in honour of these two very non-trivial people who came together in a very non-trivial turn of events.]

He played basketball in the rain, and I watched with the wide eyes of a novice pupil. I watched him play -- uncaring, inspired, unruly -- and thanked my stars for a coach and a friend like him.
Then one day, he mentioned another old, old friend, the flitting school-bus moments spent with whom in simpler times had, by then, fallen to the fate of all flitting moments and greyed under a film of dust. He mentioned her name with a tremor unlikely of the man I knew him to be, and was oblivious to my eager recognition of the woman he spoke of. He just kept talking: practiced palms guiding the ball through the rain, and a heart habituated to its love being unrequited hovering between hope and resignation; and so thereafter he spoke of our mutual friend: in broken moments of trust in his student and rival spirit. I admit, pruned soul that I was, at times, I tuned out of his babbling, despite the obvious duties of one acquainted with both parties -- hence, I don't remember every detail of what he said or how he said it, and will fail if my old friend ever asks (though, prudent woman she is, I'm guessing she'll surmise) how he used to be before their glory days.
But yes, I remember this: he played basketball in the rain, and every time he made a shot, his heart whispered her name.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Possible Second Part Of A Series

==============================
Locksmith Man

The tempest we allow
Because the streets are too serene,
Because the skies are too pristine,
Because there's nothing else to do;

The clouds that we let in
Because they bring unwelcome rain
That we welcome to change the pain
When the sun is far too low;

They're washed up on the rocks
Because we'd rather hurt a priest;
It's difficult, but they get the gist:
The locks will change today.
==============================

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Possible Series Premiere

==================
Chennai Man

Breakfast bustle;
Cafeteria man
Straining muscle
The best he can.
Girl walks in;
She has a fan,
Flexing muscle
The best he can
(Mathematician man).
Women cleaning
Floors and plates;
Man with water
Strains his brain
On dirty plates
The best he can.
Keyboard debates,
Gamer man;
Keyboard debates,
Music man;
Math debates
What man can..!
Woman survives
(The best she can)
Chennai heat, and
Chennai Man.
==================

Saturday, March 12, 2016

This was a parody of sorts...

... and is being posted here only because Mom did a Soumendra and (practically) asked 'Why not?'

========================================
The Ledge

The Ledge is আমার দুঃখ পেয়ে মিষ্টি হাসা,
The Ledge is আমার ভুল বুঝিয়ে ভালবাসা,
The Ledge is আমার খিদেয় পেটে চড়াইপাখি,
The Ledge is আমার রঙিন chalk-এ আঁকিবুকি।

ঝুলতে থাকা শব্দ সব-ই ঘুরতে গিয়ে
তোমায় দেখে চলল ঘরে মুখ ফিরিয়ে;
Algebra পড়েই চোখে কান্না এল,
তোমায় চিনতে পেরেই চোখের জলটা শুকিয়ে গেল।

The Ledge is আমার ছোট্টবেলার মিষ্টি ছেলে,
The Ledge is আমার মেঘ না চাওয়া বৃষ্টি পেলে;
The Ledge is আমার দিগ্বিদিকের infinity,
জোগাড় করা মনখারাপের খুচরো স্মৃতি।

Chewing gum-এর মোড়ক হলো সেই কবিতা
যা তোমায় সেদিন হারিয়ে ফেলে লিখেছিলাম;
হৃদ মাঝারের cloud-এ তুমি যতই ভাসো
আমি Google Photos থেকে তোমায় উড়িয়ে দিলাম।
========================================

No Bangla bands were harmed in the making of this song :P
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