When there was a volcanic disturbance in the tummy there were sure to follow the dreams that soured in the pit of the stomach. Baby corpses in yesterday’s unreal sleep were a sequel to the previous day’s fitful dalliances with the macabre full-grown corpses that had refused to be cremated. It was the foretaste of the horrors that were to follow.
“To sleep,perchance to dream”-no ,sir. The unreality of the horrors made them no less horrors. At the time the horrors occurred ,they were real. In the train ,here, the music of the clackety goes on -“to stop train,pull chain”.Luckily this will go on in the remainder of the journey.
“To stop train ,pull chain”.How nice. Quite reassuring that I can always pull chain ,to stop train. But the other day ,in a fantastic situation in this very train ,I thought my son had got out of the train in a station and could not get back into the train before the train started back.I tried to pull chain but could not stop train. The horror was unreal because later I found out that he had not actually got out of the train at all. I now like to think that I can pull chain to stop train.
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Apart from the comic refrain that goes on in the mind all the while, there is the sound of a pantomime, the flapping of hands ,thumping of large feet and fluttering of drooping wings and a terrible satire negating all that is good and positively held in beliefs. A running commentary goes on dully as an undercurrent. We are trying to destroy finiteness, the borders of consciousness , the physical world which ends where our eyes end and the sky begins. Then why this slapstick within, the vulgar shadowy figures which seem to be acting out a meaningless play with no apparent theme in particular? I want to be just like others, playing out the general theme , the theme of waving about my physical limbs loosely to some purpose and trying to stretch the mental limits to understand where all this activity leads me to. If they too are playing out a similar theme in their world, their pantomime may be different or may be, in some ways ,of the same kind and a part of my theme .The laughter is resounding as though it is an after-thought.
Here, in the Staff College guest house I sit alone in the room ,watching a mute T.V., which I have come to like ,because I could see the mime of human actions without the meaning attributed to them by the accompanying sound. The meaning is still there but a garbled meaning which stills the running commentary within our selves. The mute T.V. freezes time temporarily putting the human actions out of perspective and suspending the operation of the clock. For a while I hear the pigeon’s moans which seem to somehow unmark time .This happens to me when I hear the pigeon’s moans in the stillness of the room away from the road’s traffic sounds. The moans sound as though they unmark time ,as though it does not really matter it is now 10.30A.M. or 7 P.M. Or rather, as though it is always 10.30 A.M. When the pigeon moans, my body remains still and stops growing because it unmarks my body’s time.The screeching sound of the furniture on the first floor comes luxuriously floating through the walls ,hitting the muteness of my T.V. which responds by a brilliant blink of the screen.The pigeon has stopped moaning as though it has now decided to mark time again for the time being. My body has started aging once again.
These flowers would not talk to us
About their previous night’s growth pain
The pain of their petals unfolding
When the stars sprinkled dust on our roof
And the night’s queen whitely bloomed.
All the while our pleasures stuck to us
There was déjà vu in the night’s smell
The left over one of the previous day
That had mixed with tar and hot sun
Which had in turn mixed with bodies.
That night was hope and some angst
While nothing ever happened , it would.
We were talking about faith, which helped fight despair in the face of a crisis. While things have always happened in a most unexpected fashion we have always believed that this thing is not going to happen to us . Yes ,other things have happened to other people but we have a long unhappening future ahead . Against all these unhappening things there are a few things which our faith prompts us to believe ,will happen.These are the miracles which ,we have always believed ,will happen.Somehow these miracles will happen . In yet another way of speaking, I don’t believe they will not happen
The leaves felt disconnected on the sudden earth
The sky was broken in parts, teasing through
Tiny leaf-spaces full of squirrel tails and red ants
For some reason all our prayers were held up
On tiled roofs and history’s banyan treetops
We squatted on the cement steps, waiting for miracles
The neighborhood thatched hut sat immobile
The gold of its last summer turning to weary grey.
The grass walks tired of several days’ soundless feet
Between us arose questions of unspoken skepticism
Our eyes shone with wet anticipation behind their lids
In the evening the rain obliterated our foot-prints
It is as though we have never existed under the sky.
It is as though these things will never happen to us.
The scepticism here is only a fleeting thought. Actually ,deep within us we believe that miracles do take place and to that extent we are often willing to “suspend our disbelief” . Other wise we have to grapple with this problem of continually carrying transience with us like the Buddhist monk who, when asked if he has seen a pretty princess passing by in the jungle ,has said, ” I don’t know if it was a woman or it was a princess or a human being or an animal ; I saw some bones and some flesh passing by ” .
We do not carry such a feeling of transience with us because that strikes at the root of our existence whose continuance is assured only by the survival instinct ingrained in us. Actually we believe, deep within ,in our own immortality .As the belief goes against the human logic which tells us in unequivocal terms that whoever is born shall die ,as has been the emprical evidence so far, we invent our own miracles which enable a temporary suspension of the logic inherent in our thinking. Actually faith is a way of insuring ourselves against uncertainty which dogs us at every step.We do not know what lies ahead and the future is filled with too many possibilities. The birth is itself a massive accident being a product of millions of possibilities and sustaining the existence is a matter of innumerable parameters .Continued existence is subject to all these parameters even a single one of which can bring about cessation of existence.The unpredictability has to be fought in our own way ,not certainly with the puny logic system we have inherited from the human race. A more comfortable survival mechanism lies in the wiping off of what we have learnt from the logic system at least for the time being .
The question about the wind that bothered me as a child was whether the tree started it all. We used to think the tree has something to do with the formation of the wind. The next doubt that followed was if the tree started it ,whether it would shake and move by itself and stir up the atmosphere to create the wind like the hand fan.It was only later that it occurred to us that it is not the hand fan which created the wind but it merely caused the disturbance in the atmosphere , a temporary difference in the air pressures leading to the moving air ,which is the wind. But the tree is not doing a similar thing.The tree is merely shaking due to the wind as it passes through its foliage.
Here is a case where knowledge disappoints.We love our trees to shake and create the wind .We want them not to helplessly shake and shiver when the wind comes.We want them to take the law in their hands. Because the pipal tree near our house creates ripples of music at night as the wind passes and we like to believe that it is the tree which creates the wind. This is what suits us to believe ,whatever science says.
The pipal tree near our house whistled at the passing wind
At the street-corner the neem tree trembled with pleasure.
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