Sunday, July 28, 2013

The phone call


The phone rang.

I dreaded phone calls. Phone calls portend work. Working the tongue to engage in the sameness of the ordinary chit-chat or an intimation of work that needed to be completed within a mentioned deadline. I didn't want to engage myself in any of those.I didn't want to work this weekend. I was tired...of everything.

It had been a busy week altogether. In the midst of the alternating dry and wet weather, I had been racing against time to complete my work within the given schedule. What do I do for a living? I am a teacher by profession. Yes, a boring and uninteresting person stuck in the job meant for grey-haired folk who teach for recreation and not out of the passion for something exciting. Most people presume that it is one of the easiest professions to opt for. We have seen hundreds of parodies of teachers either dozing off in the class or struggling to stay awake in the middle of street-smart and mischievous students. But all that's rubbish. Far from the truth our clan survives everyday. I need to get my lessons ready,employ innovative techniques to add zing to the dull chapters, assign loads of homework(which apparently proves how serious I am about my work) and correct them carefully too. Around 200 copies get corrected every week. Red pens turn into a fearful weapon, inking the fates of hundreds of hopeful students. In the manner of gossip mongering old ladies, the time when we are free(usually the 20 minutes of recess), we leaf through the brown-paper covered copies and wag our tongues by way of multitasking, discussing either the way a particular student misbehaved or how bad our current education system is or The chatter insipid, the days weary..I feel tired by the end of the week. Teaching today has turned into a thankless profession, for all demand a show of work....parents and administration alike( and nothing is very noble about that).Nobody really bothers about the quality of work till the quantity(equal to copies corrected and students passing the examination) is sufficient.

And then the phone rang on..and on..It wanted to put my reverie on hold and probably scream something important. It wanted to shake me out of my numbness. It trrrringed its way to put my limbs to action, to answer the phone and get it done with. The quiet had already been broken. The stillness of the room had politely taken its leave. I tossed and turned in my bed and took a look at my mobile phone once again. An unknown number flashed on the screen. I lost all the remaining will to receive it. It had to be either one of those telemarketing calls or a crank call. I finally did answer it and put the ringtone out of its misery.


"Hello....Miss? I'm Manisha...Do you recognise me?"

"Aaaah..yes are you..?"

"Miss...I am fine...We miss you here a lot...Nothing's the same after you left school...Miss you were the best..Please come back Miss...Miss where do you teach now?...Come back please Miss..." and it went on for sometime.

Well, it is not everyday that one is appreciated for his or her hard work. It is not everyday that one gets to create an impression on the mind a child. It is not everyday that you are given an opportunity to shape the thinking mind of a young one, trigger his or her imagination, challenge the child to think out of the box.
And it is not everyday that you're told that you are the best, that all your effort was not in vain.I smiled to myself after concluding that phone call. A pessimist might have said that this girl was simply oiling my heels to get the better of me. But then, had the pessimist heard the excitement so obvious in her voice?  To me at times my job appears to be dull and monochromatic. But it is this very 'me' again who can turn the tables around, and make my life worthwhile. Good things just don't happen, but one has to make them happen.

That phone call gave me that much-needed push. That phone call made me rediscover my lost self again. It made me rediscover the reason why I had taken up this profession. It made me relive my love, my passion for teaching.

It brought back colors to the jaded routine of my life...and those colors have not faded since then.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Friday, July 19, 2013

Love over a cup of coffee

...And I blushed!... Soaking in the wordless praise,
How such acts of admiration set my heart ablaze!
The man that I had so long in my mind had chased,
Now seemed to reciprocate my passion, unfazed!
This gentleman I had come across in a forgettable cafe,
He was engrossed in his laptop, sipping an insipid latte.
While I observed him with keen eyes, discreet and unsure
Of my instant likeness for a man, who to my friends seemed a bore.
A gentle smile, through the unkempt beard, played in an occasional interval,
At other times, he only gazed deeply into his dog-eared novel.
The sudden spark of a long-forgotten memory sent him in throes of euphoria
Yet the eyes, I observed, had a distinct stillness, speaking volumes about his persona.
I wished I knew what he was writing, if it was a letter to his beloved...
For he seemed like a man thriving in romance,(not a rookie wasting ages discovering it.)
A strong tension built up,as a silent attraction took place,
As I yearned for him to cast his eyes on me..just that single once!
A queer tingle deep inside, my emotions running uncontrollably wild,
I felt my good senses getting numb,
And I could definitely feel a distinct lump
Down my throat, as my palms got clammy,
Yet my eyes stayed fixed on him, my world was so topsy-turvy!
But then, out of the blue, he looked straight into my eyes,
My heart jumped into my mouth
 He acknowledged my curious gaze, without a seed of surprise,
His smile was my escape route
From all binding inhibitions,
From all my insecurities,
From all exhausting tribulations,
From all mundane trivialities.
That smile,that half crooked smile, charming and alluring,
That faint nod, those merry eyes, brilliant and sparkling.
Revealed so much of him to me yet it surely meant nothing...
After four years of marriage, of courtship and clandestine meetings,
I now realize that lingering smile, had chalked out 'our' story's very beginning.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

...Ant yet again, this post was adjudged a WOW post...This time I topped the list (it may have been a random selection..but feels great on topping the list of WOW entries)....Am super happy...


What hurts more than a look of despise?
What brings tears to those frosty little eyes?
What causes the tremor in the aching heart?
What has a sway on emotions from the start?
Words, ah! simple words:
A mysterious temptress.
Arresting people far and wide,
In its silken waves of unfathomable delight,
Defining and outlining our earthly existence,
Rendering silhouettes and shadows solid substances.
Forging and strengthening ties, new and strong,
Shaping and creating history all along.
What would we ever do in its very absence?
How would be survive without airing all our grievance?
How would we surmount strictures, paint beautiful pictures
If the mind's canvas was stark, groping in the dark?
How would one profess one's sincere affection
Without songs and rhymes revealing one's undying passion?
Words, ah! simple words:
The miracle of the universe.
Stringing a pearl of thoughts so rich,
The wise lay besotted, weilding its power which
Can bridge the gulf,  bringing in equality,
Can liberate the lost souls of its dreadful drudgery.
Words of love and words of hate,
Words of wisdom and unending debate,
Their pacifying power withstands the climes curdling in rage,
If chosen carefully, they delineate our Fate.
Empowering and enriching,
Enlightening and bewitching.
A harmless play of words,
The cornerstone for all absurd.
More than ever,
In the midst of deafening laughter and chuckle,
The somnolent indifferent people buckle
Up for an era where there isn't any place for a healthy retort
(For these are times when the trove of words fall short)
Paving way for void and vacuum
"The death of words": walking into our doom.
So, ponder and reflect and regroup the alphabets,
Let us form a Word that'll salvage the wreckage
Of a civilization blinded by emotionless emoticons;
Remember words once lost, will be for ever gone.
Speaking without expressing is not effective communication,
Let the rainbow of letters result in our race's resurrection.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Death of a Pen

O mercy! O mercy! my vein is running dry,
I breathe my last, my time has come, alas!
The death knell's been rung, the mourning's begun,
With the final parting sigh, it's time to bid goodbye.
Confounded with grief, I beg your leave,
O White Lady, me... I plead you to forgive.
The promises we shared, the dreams we bred,
Today lie shattered, and brutally battered
In the hands of time, echoed (in vain) in this fruitless rhyme.
You'll forever be in my heart, here we'll never be apart,
Our love and affection, will in certain find rendition
In the songs of bards, on your lips as words.
Yet a pain so intense, fills the final hours of my existence
With memories and regret, of the words I couldn't correct.
The blue goes dry, an emptiness is alive
With the final blot, that your white does clot,
I announce the demise, of a Pen once wise. 

Are you visible enough?

When Griffin turned invisible courtesy all the medical concoctions in the famous novel by H.G Wells, the world let out a gasp debating if it could be a near possibility where human beings could alter their refractive index, and merge into the thin air,unnoticed. Some said it was impossible. It was a mere work of fiction, debunking facts, playing with our imagination. Then came Mr. Ralph Ellison who had a 'colored' perception of one turning invisible. The margins were drawn and the intellectual debates on the question of identity rolled on. Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility turned into a prized possession for every creative mind. It was Harry's tool as it helped him unveil secrets galore in many of his post-bedtime adventures. Moreover, as youngsters we have often been told and re-told stories of disembodied spirits and ghosts, who are 'invisible' to naked eyes but their existence can nevertheless be denied.

"If I were invisible.." is a common topic to nurture writing skills in creative and imaginative children of all ages. What gets me amused is the answers I receive as a teacher. Imagination runs wild as children quench their desire for adventure and fun in their well-written essays. If one decides to plunder a chocolate shop, the other wills to spend a quiet time in the library hidden from the view of critical eyes. Another yearns to quench her longing for travel to countries afar by gaining admission in a flight unseen by the attendants. Being invisible is such a boon to these young minds. It can make their dreams come true, can help them perform the unthinkable, unleash their naughtiest side and still not get is the route to freedom and bliss, the same which are denied in actuality, curbed by norms, destroyed by morality.

Yet, even though we dream to be "invisible" are we visible enough in the current state of affairs? I would like to share an incident that took place recently in a public bus. The fare was six rupees. I was not carrying adequate change. The seats were full, so I had to stand my way to the next stop. While trying to balance myself and coping with the multiple road-bumps, I managed to fish out a ten-rupee note. The bus conductor was visibly in a bad mood. He started hurling abuses at me for not carrying the exact change. With some remarks being too offensive to bear, I joined the war of words, desperately beseeching the other passengers for help. It seemed that every soul in the bus had lost both their senses and voice. They looked out of the window, indifferent to the hooliganism demonstrated by the conductor. I was shocked and hurt. Hurt by how my co-passengers chose to behave. Hurt that they chose to remain invisible.

Scene 2. A busy thoroughfare in a metropolitan city populated by the literates and the educated. A truck collides into a car driven by a a gentleman in his mid-thirties. He is accompanied by his young daughter of five.The gentleman suffers a fatal head injury due to the tremendous impact. He lies unconscious, with blood trickling from the sides of his forehead, turning his pale cream colored shirt red. The child with tear washed eyes pleads for help from the passing vehicles. She needs to save her Daddy. Her Daddy is lying still and motionless. No help was extended. No generosity shown. The father breathed his last in the city peopled by invisible men.

So what makes us invisible? The sameness of our lives? Our self-centered nature? The desire to avoid trouble at all costs by leading a 'safe' life...a life where there is no room for 'unwanted' disputes and aggression? Or perhaps all of them. We live in a society where all people turn stone faced in public but share winks and LOLs in the virtual sphere. It is a dog-eat-dog world, where survival of the fittest attains new parameters. "Your problem is your problem, and my problem is yours too" is the attitude that defines us today. Anonymity is a part of us and we inhabit the anonymous.So basically, we don't need a cloak to envelop us in secrecy or a pill to guarantee our invisibility. In being what we are today, we are invisible (and not invincible, as many would choose to believe). A reason enough to celebrate, eh?

With witnesses turning hostile in corridors of Law, and Justice seeing the light of the day after decades, I wish we decided to be visible for a day, and fought back our complacence, be passionate, feel alive to each moment of our lives. I wish we took an adventure down the common streets by standing up against the wrong and backing up the right, by finding our voice and behave rationally (for a change). I believe, that at present, turning invisible is the simplest thing that one can do, but turning the visibility button on demands  courage...and a lot of it.
Enough of receding to the background as a wallflower, 
Awaiting the wheels of fortune to turn in our favour.
It's time to be the change we so long desire,
Let go off our inhibitions,and kindle the fire.
Set minds ablaze with a passion so strong,
We need to be visible... to right our wrong.

So, as a teacher, my question to you is if you were given an opportunity, would you embrace invisibility with open arms (and savour a part of yourself that you already are..) or would you decline it and choose to be visible instead (and save yourself and posterity)? 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Opposites attract

You break my heart each and every time,
You flip and toss it like a coin.
You say you love me yet wound me bad,
Your head full of arrogance simply drives me mad!
You never listen when I try and explain
Why I obsess over something, while you cast a look of disdain.
Every conversation with you is a struggle of its kind,
With you it seems, it's useless exercising my mind!
When the dinner lies untouched on the table,cold,
You continue to bicker on the orders, new and the old.
You cry buckets when we break up
But ignore my calls the day thereafter,
(You forget how we were set up
In the midst of merry banter!)
You forget my birthday, even the date of our anniversary,
The flowers you sent a month later only adds to my misery.
You dance a dance which I detest,
You fight a fight which I protest.
You are the wrong to my right,
You are the darkness to my light.
Yet why do I love you head over heels?
Your smile makes me realize how strongly I feel
For you and your stupidity, and all the rest you do,
For love sees no reason: it's only companionship,sublime and true.
When you say nothing ...nothing really at all
You say more than you think..Silence speaks volumes after all!
With all love and hatred you're still mine.. (silly brat),
Finally I understand why people say that opposites attract!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In search of Muse

"On a rainy day I wished to..." Riya stopped writing. She put her pen down, stared at the written words on a new crispy white sheet of paper. There were deep furrows between her eyebrows. She closed her eyes for a moment, scratched out the words and angrily crumpled the sheet, making it fly off into the nearest bin. Why wasn't she getting the inspiration to write something beautiful? Something that would not be forced, something that would echo her thoughts and emotions, something that would be a part of her and still be more beautiful...something that would be perfect! Well, probably Riya was thinking too much of the outcome and not of the matter. She needed to focus and draw inspiration from her surroundings. She needed to think harder...

Meanwhile, as Riya was immersed deep in her thoughts, the sky was darkening outside. The distant rumble of thunder and a strong cool breeze was received with cheer by the urchins on the street. The hawkers were assembling all their goods inside large polythene bags. The pedestrians walked faster. They didn't wish to be stranded in the midst of a thunderous shower. The branches were swaying menacingly from side to side as if uttering a mystical chant, beckoning the drops from Heaven. The red of the sky was now replaced by a dull grey and growing black. The howl of the winds drew every soul back to the shelter of their houses. Demands for deep fried snacks were increasing steadily in every household. After all, what is rain without a warm cup of beverage and a plate of steaming hot 'pakoras'? While people outside were busy readying themselves to witness God's miracle, Riya was oblivious to the excitement outside. Her heart was tormented. She had to submit an article on 'A Rainy Day' by the very next day. Her English teacher would be furious if the work was not completed. Riya was sitting in a closed room, with the doors and windows shut tight. She could barely see the outline of the city now getting blurred by the strong gushes of rain. All she could feel was the tension building up as time was ticking away and she hadn't written anything on the topic. She still needed to think harder...

As the thirteen-year old chewed on her pencil's tip for the umpteenth time, she grew nervous. Her mother wouldn't like to be told by the teacher that she had failed to do the homework. (Mrs. Mathews was a grumpy old woman who took the submission of tasks seriously and non-submission of tasks even more seriously.) She really couldn't ask anybody for help as the phone lines were dead, thanks to the storm outside. With no network coverage and Mommy out of home, she had to battle the demoniac article all by herself. Mommy..Mommy always arrived home late. She was forever busy at office. And Daddy..was always out of town, out of the radar of family-life yet smiling happily through all photo albums. But Riya couldn't afford to spare a thought about her miserable life. She had to complete this assignment as soon as she could and then move on to prepare for the horrifying Maths test for next week. After all, she was a good student. She couldn't let her image get tarnished on account of a failure in a silly article. Yes, silly. When Mrs. Matthews had given the topic, it had sounded very simple, a child's play. But Mrs. Matthews wanted a personal impression on the topic and not a generalised essay. That was very challenging indeed...for not many could understand their emotions, let alone penning them down at this age. She struggled hard to invoke her Muse who could guide her with the correct words that would make the teacher happy. But the Muse was failing her. Her mind was drawing a blank. All she could feel was the heaviness of her eyes, and an ache down her shoulder. School bags these days were so heavy.

Riya didn't give up hope. She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate more and more on her topic. But all she could hear was the muffled roar of winds outside, with raindrops lashing against her closed windows. It was 6.30 pm by her watch. Her mother wouldn't be home soon. She slowly raised herself from her chair and walked towards the window. She was going to do the unthinkable. She was going to let the rain in. She had never ever done that. She had never danced in the rain like her friends in school. She had always been the perfectly disciplined girl leading the perfect childhood( though, at times, she asked herself if her life was perfect at all!) With two working parents earning bucket loads of money, being a part of a good school, in possession of a neat academic record of straight As in every subject, she was living a dream of many young girls of her age. But what about Riya's dreams? She was still a child, she too wanted to jump into the dirty puddle of rain water without a care in the world. She too wanted to get dripping wet in the rain, shout with glee and cuddle up to her parents at night being read a cozy bed time story... Well, this wasn't the time for her disappointments to surface. This was the time of joy. She took anxious steps towards the window and flung it open with a racing heart.

The strong gust of wind and rain drenched her in a matter of seconds. Her loose sheets of paper were flying all over the room. The pencil case lay on the floor with pens of different colors peeking outside. The calendar on the wall was about to cut lose. No divine picture could confront the power of  Mother Nature. But was Riya scared?  Her heart was beating wildly. She had kept her eyes shut. She didn't wish the dust particles accompanying the slanting rain to blind her. But strangely, she felt no fear. She felt at ease for the very first time of her life. Her hair was flying all over freckled face. Her skirt was swishing to the rhythm of the pitter-patter. She could feel the cold of the rain on her body and the warmth which followed, as her soul absorbed it with joy. She felt happy...happy and pleased...happy and...

Her thoughts were obstructed by a blinding flash of lightning accompanied by the clap of thunder. She let out a loud yell and hurriedly shut the window. She was breathing heavily now. She didn't know why she had given into the madness of impropriety. This was so unbecoming of her. Her mother would be back home in no time. How would she react about the mess? What possible explanation could she give Mommy to pacify her anger? ....

....Perhaps she could say that she had been touched by the Muse. Perhaps she could say that she had had the taste of liberty. Perhaps she could say that she had experienced something heavenly..she could say that it was a one time opportunity, not to be missed. And then suddenly, just like that, in the manner of the blinding flash of lightning, words struck her mind and flowed on the empty sheets creating a symphony of language..

"On a rainy day,
I wished to play
And feel the water on my lips.
On a rainy day,
I wished I may
Dance to the the drip-drop beats.
On a rainy day,
That is today
I am forced to stay inside.
Do my homework,
Put in all my effort,
While others make merry outside.
On a rainy day,
With great dismay
I put forth a question to my elders:
When best things in life are free
And all we seek is happiness for our family,
Then why put us in fetters?"

 And this was the end. End of innocence....for she had been touched by the Muse now...

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda