Science, more than a body of knowledge, is a perspective. One tat uses enquiry, intellect n rigour, to tease out the real from amidst our illusions, delusions and temptations. Its about breaking free from our shackles of prejudice, pushing the limitations of our senses further, n thus creating a world order that is sane, and humane.
I just watched the re-telecast of Cosmos on National Geography. The episode was The Clean Room and it was in that 60 minutes that I learnt about this person, a scientist, a geochemist in fact, Clair Cameron Patterson.
The episode was on how we figured out the age of our planet, the Earth. From the practical problem in doing so due to the absence of any land formation still remaining in its original form since its turbulent origins, through layers in the sedimentary rock formations in the Grand Canyon to the radiometric dating method of meteorites, the episode was fab! But what genuinely thrilled me to post this blog was the gem of a person this CC Patterson was as shown in the episode.
He was a scientific genius. He figured out the presently accepted estimate for the age of our planet at 4.5 billion years, and was sweet enough to drive to his home so his mom would be the first to hear of it. He used uranium-lead radiometric dating technique. Its like uranium being radioactive, decays along a succession of elements to the highly inert lead. The rate at which it does this is constant and has been established. So from the relative proportions of uranium and lead in any sample, its age since the time of formation could be teased out. It was essentially this that CC Patterson did.
But there have been scientific giants greater than him. His genius lies in the social activism that he put himself to after the culmination of his research. As during the time he was working on figuring out the lead levels in the meteorite sample, he found that the environment levels were alarmingly high (which irkingly messed with his test results). Now lead being a neurotoxic, hemotoxin and something which weakens bones and causes sterility, this was a significant find.Taking it as the starting point, he established that the lead levels in our atmosphere werent as high always, in fact it was significantly low only a couple hundred years ago. For this he sampled water from deep and shallow level of ocean and took 300 year old ice samples from Antarctica. And the cause, he nailed it on the addition of tetraethyllead in gasoline. Then there was this huge issue of appeal and commission and trials, and after 20 years of struggle, leaded petrol was banned.
It was this pitch perfect blend of scientific genius and social activism that makes him stand apart. I sincerely salute his greatness. He indeed was some man!
The smile of a pretty woman is so very influential! It feels like the gush of morning breeze blow on to you from all around. It sets your heart racing and thoughts pacing, and well not to say, the adrenaline coursing through your veins. How would it have been had there been no hormone occupying the niche of adrenaline in human body!
No single act of spontaneous behaviour. No speech influences. No life in competitive sports, neither in playing nor in watching. No food entices. No sight incites. No thought inflames. And no dreams fires and makes you run that extra mile you need to realise it! But why do dreams happen at all!
The beauty of human brain lies in the fact that, at its engine works the principles of quantum mechanics and its expression can be very lucidly observed at the macro level. The mechanics of ideation, how from no where a thought strike in your brain, how an initiative is formed, how tendencies occur in people, even censured thought-out responses, all happen driven by the probabilistic and inherent uncertainty of the quantum world hovering in and about neurons. Really, how uncertain is life!
People enter into our lives’ from no where, influence it, and as smoothly take off to never return, it’s just so astoundingly unforeseen. The sights we witness, the things we read, the points we learn, the places we visit, the songs we hear, the actions we execute, their consequences, the whole life as it is, seems so different from moment to next, as if the world is on an endless journey to metamorphose into something else. Men do metamorphose too!
We change. We all change over time. What defines a person is how he carries himself, how he interacts with others, how he annotes priority to the things in the world about and what is he passionate for. And any of these change, powered by the experiences he goes through, be it in the real world outside, or the fictitious world of movies and novels, a man, every man is on an endless spiral of becoming else. Men should like women!
For the theist, God created men and women, two genders. He did not make the participants of this multiplayer game called life all men or all women. And his actions are quite purposeful you see. Well as for the atheist and agnostic, not being moved by a creature of the other gender is a sincere disrespect and sheer disobedience to the hormones that surge through your body and not to say, their amygdale in brain will soon undergo disuse atrophy! As against atrophy, tropic changes in response to forces of nature are the only responses that make sense.
Geotropism, the root grows down while shoot up of a plant in response to gravitational force; chemotropism, the germ tube of a pollen courses through the stigma of the pistil to reach the ovum in the ovary in response to chemical gradient down the stigma; and primeval human behaviour, to search for food, to protect self with warmth, and from cold and draught, and to explore and exploit the nature around, these too are tropic changes evolved over eras spanning long lineages! Mine is a queer lineage I will say.
Dad’s dad was a farmer, with long stretches of fields. And his wife kept a garden where she grew vegetables for lunch and dinner. Mom’s dad was a teacher at a Govt school and his wife, well, she was a home-maker! My dad was into defence, mom into academics, as for my bro and me, we consider selves’ as two odd nuts rolling about, forming original paradigms, with an extended list of interests and fun enough to keep selves never bored of self! Boredom is a bane!
We feel bored when we are involved in things that doesn’t interest us, or no more interests us. Life is a one time opportunity. Some sixty years, and all will be starting on our journey to the beyond! So the moral of the story is, do what interests you, have fun, make most of each passing moment and live thy life to the fullest! My stomach doesn’t feel full with one magi at the college Nescafe.
Its like, I actually go there to have some gala time with mates. Call out the order aloud and trifle over who gets the larger share of the order! As apart from this, I also quite like to sit at the café in the late eve, with the whole campus having a serene stillness and the trees lulling in the wind. Sitting alone, make an order, and eat slow. At those couple moments, though being a period of relative physical inactivity, I get to feel so very alive and, well happy.
The story that follows relates to me. Well not exactly the 6’1” me, but the 3’2” me. Confused!! Well it’s an event from the sweet little childhood of mine (yeah, those lovely days when even as a male child you had the freedom to wear pink, without any societal hue and cry!!).
As a matter of fact, instances from the earliest days of our life, mindless as they seem, inadvertently happen to be among the most interesting of reads. Well am not going to hurt my pride by going far back as to the days when I would wear diapers!! So lets fast forward a bit, at say 2x speed to a hot scorching summer noon some 18 years before today, that is, when I was, say two years young and still the centre of attraction of all girls in town. Dunno why these virtues wear off with age!
Anyway, lets focus now. It was a noon when I was left alone but for my fat sweet story-telling granny. But I would not forgive her, you know, in the whole five to six years of my childhood, never did she tell me one proper A rated story! All silly kiddish U/A story with fox that would steal the crow’s vadaai!! Anyway, as they say, to err is human but to forgive… divine! So grandma, may your soul up there, hopefully in heaven, rest in peace under my blessings! Though then, she was still a sweet walking talking cooking dear person.
That day, she was alone at home at that village of mine, where gobar-gas plants used to supply gas for stove and they used to milk cows under the palm-leaved sheds. I was there guarding her! Old as she may be, but she was one sweet hottie! So she was lying on the cot in the living room of that two roomed shack, and I was playing with tamarind-seeds. Throw one seed up, pat the floor, and catch the seeds as they are on their way back!! Demands exquisite knowledge of kinematics (for my medical friends, its that branch of physics that deals with study of moving objects!!).
Now coming to the matter, there was a hustle in the kitchen as a kitten was repeatedly stalking in and out. My granny got disturbed and asked me if I could remove the cat from there. I geared up. It was a small furry creature with a white coat and stripes of chocolate brown… tasty haan! But I had more reign on my senses then!! I searched around to take an account of the weapons I had and tried to gauge it against the given mission.
I thought of throwing utensils first, but it would create one heck of a noise. Then thought about the knife and spoon, but there was only one spoon, my dear plastic soup-stick and I wouldn’t part with that and as for knife, I fear it since it sliced my finger once while I tried chopping a raw mango. After much search, finally I settled on a gunny bag. In a farmers family, such things come handy. And I dashed behind the cat. It was a thrilling kid-kitten chase, believe me, still better than the cat-rat chase. And as always happens, the hero wins. Here if you are smart enough should be able to guess, the hero is… me! I got the kitten cornered and pounced did I over it, with the bag wide open.
Then its such a time that we don’t fear much. I did not care about its claws or teeth or even the hiss it made. It just made the whole duel more fun. And with it in the bag I beamed a big broad smile. I won! But now there remained one more task, to get rid of it. I conjured up all equations and formulae I knew and tried to feed in the available data, but no output could I gleam to this great grave problem. After much thought and debate with self, I thought, the wide open well beside, has straight walls. If I fall, I couldn’t climb up. Applying the same to the kitten, neither would it and thus problem optimally solved.
Thus down into the well did go the kitty and I returned home with the pride of a knight having saved the kingdom from the enemy army! Where’s my sweetheart with rose in hand awaiting my homecoming…! Oops wells that’s a different timeline. Well I returned back to home and told granny the works done. And in her half slumber, she nodded accent. No appreciations though. Well as kids we never needed one right. We did just for the thrill of it!
Thus I got busy again with my tamarind-seeds and other stuffs. And it was by eve that day that I got a big bad thrashing. The kitten, drowned as you may presume, was fished with a bucket by my uncle and I got such a bad scolding that I slept refusing food. If not appreciating, at least don’t scold me na! I just did what was told!! But when has the world of man been just!!
And the next day morning the whole of yesterday was just a dream. I ate enough to compensate for the night before and all fell back to routine. That incident did not seem at all to mean anything except that throwing cats into well brings real bad scolding. Days passed, I grew taller, more mature and more handsome (wish, so dearly I wished!!). And somewhere in my fifth or sixth grade, that incident all of a sudden came to my mind. The thought this time made me shudder. The kitten, drowned, dead, fetched out the well gleamed before my eyes and I felt my heart heavy with sadness. I felt sorry for the kitten. I felt guilty for having killed it. I cried alone. And it was a day I understood, never hurt a life, knowingly or unknowingly!
Really life is an awesome teacher, said some great man (funny all pithy wise sayings are said only by men!!). And well, I would rather make a correction in it. Though it teaches, we learn at our own proper time. And after having read this wonderful account from my dear childhood, if any girl wants to have coffee with me (sorry guys, am not gay!), you are always welcome!!
In the early hours of morning, when the grass is still wet with the dew of the night before and the mud moist, I saw the impressions of two small little paws. The paw-prints of a young little kid early up from his bed. The imprints formed a track, with the kid definitely not walking with a pre-set destination in mind.
I let my eyes follow the trail. It went straight for a few yards, then slowly turned left, a few paces, a sharp turn right, another couple steps, a slight turn to right, a few paces… And it was not very long after when I spotted the kid himself.
He was sitting on the grass under a tree. The Sun had just crossed the horizon and the pond beside glistened with rays as the beings inside stirred to life. The kid had his legs stretched, and was peacefully plucking some blades of grass from between his knees. He then took one fleshy blade, and bit it between his pearly white teeth, and the succulence inside sprinkled forth into his mouth.
He was busy alone. All the while speaking to himself and to the inanimate things around. After a while he went to the pond and sat at its bank. He let a finger into the water and a wave of chill passed over his body and he gasped in pleasant cheer. Then he slowly let his legs inside, knee deep and beamed a big wonderful smile as he felt the chill lick against his skin.
The fishes inside did not, it seems, feel afraid. They started zooming around his legs and the kid started conversing with them. He put a few pebbles into the pond and the still surface split into lively ripples, each following the other in circles of increasing size. And at one time, as if by an impulse of enthusiasm, he put a big stone to form a big ripple and it fell in with a heavy sound that put him to giggle.
The ripples had set the lotus leaves afloat on the surface of the pond into a stroll. As one green leaf with beads of water drifted near within reach, the kid tried to catch hold of it. As he was about to clasp it in his palm, he saw something moving. He hesitated. Then he saw something again on the leaf move, but could not decide what it had been. Not bothering much he touched the big leaf, and just then a small but fat green frog which had been perching on the leaf all the while dived off. And the kid clapped in amazement.
With the heat of the day building, the fishes retreated to cooler bottoms. So bored alone our kid sets in search of things more interesting. He goes to the tree beside and sits under, resting his back against its trunk, leaning comfortably against a root of the big green tree that had grown over-ground.
He took up a rock and started drawing lines in the mud. He intersected the lines. Made circles. Squares. Triangles. Then he tried a free hand drawing of the fish he had seen. Having made one, he made a couple more to give the lonely fish some company. Satisfied, he then drew that leaf and tried to draw something which may resemble the frog. Slowly and slowly, as he kept scribbling, his scribbles, went from lines to figures then into bizarre and curvy caricatures as he slipped down and down and fell into a nice sleep.
I looked down at the wonderful kid, curled up, sleeping in the tree’s lap, under its soothing shade. A slick of his hair bent over his forehead as a breeze blew through. He was sleeping so content. I could see a calm smile on his lips all the while. It felt like the whole nature kept a natural quiet peppered with the occasional cooing of the birds and the diving of frogs into the pond beside.
I know not when that the sky started growing dim. The evening twilight. The kid slowly wakes up. He stretches his arms with his fist clenched and yawns a mighty yawn making a childish squeak. Then he stands up. He slowly dusts his pants and goes up to the pond. He looks in and beams a smile at his own reflection. Then he takes a palm full of water and splashes it against his face. He feels a slight rumble in his stomach and he then takes a palm full of water, slowly and carefully, trying not to spill them, to his lips, and tilts his head back and the palm up letting the water pour into his mouth. He has a couple more and then stands up.
He knows he must leave. He is afraid of dark, that gloomy part of the day that caps the beautiful day to close. Just as he waves the pond a longing goodbye he hears a flutter of wings. He jumps with joy. He sees a pair of birds fly past and make a big circle of the tree that he had slept under and they then settle upon a branch. He now notices a brown cosy nest. He had not seen it before. As the mama bird perches at the edge of the nest, cute little birdlings start squeaking and jumping about, pushing and bouncing against each other. The mama bird gives them a sweet caring look, that tells how much she loves them and how much she missed them all day.
Then she slowly brings out the worms she had stored in her crop and holds them out as the birdlings suck them in into their tummy. Our kid looks at it all and smiles. In his heart, at some little corner, he feels a patch moisten. A slick of tear forms on his eyes. His ramble seems not to cross the knot in his throat. He just looks on, longingly.
And finally as the forthcoming night urges him to retreat, he just brings his palms close and cups his mouth, like when someone tells something into others ears. And in an airy voice, the kid tells to the birdlings, “Your mother is so sweet. Don’t lose her, Ok!”. And then winks. And starts back on his jumpy gait homewards. Where he knows, food, bed and a heater to warm the room awaits. A heater to warm the room. Wish he had mom to warm his heart. Wish. Wish he had her…
A gush of wind blew from the east and caused another yellowing leaf to tumble down the maple tree. It fell, rocking slowly along its course, becoming part of the blanket of golden leaves strewn at the floor of the clearing. Seated there is Anamika, silent, solemn and still. It is a quiet and serene place with towering trees lining around, grass and leaves carpeting the ground while a couple of benches were set about. Anamika is sitting on one of the benches and it happened that the clearing was feebly populated then with only a couple of children playing with a ball and a girl hugging and kissing her pup.
Anamika is all to herself. She sits calm, composed and quiet. Her black locks lay neatly straightened behind and her yellow dress blending gradually with the fair brown of her skin, giving her a tranquil charm. She leans back on the back-rest and her eyes float up, slowly above the canopy of the trees to the blue of the sky and the memory of that day blinks within. That sweet lovely day when she had met him.
A year must have passed since. It was another pleasant evening and Anamika was there, sitting on the same bench and admiring the children playing around. There were many that day. A pair of them were playing Frisbee, two toddlers were trying a tri-cycle, a girl was holding a big ball, about as big as self and bumping about while another kid was throwing stick for his dog to fetch back. She was so involved into the lively scene playing in front that maybe she did not spot him sitting right opposite, far behind the beaming kids and resting his gaze upon her.
The first time she saw him, she said to self that he was handsome indeed. He did not flinch his gaze when their’s locked and Anamika cut her’s. The quiet was thrilling. She here, conscious of his soft gaze drenching her being and he there, casting an unblinking admiration upon her. The seconds ticked for a while, then the minutes. And the notion just hung in the air that, what next!
And he stood up. Still looking in her direction and strolled straight towards her. Her heart started bouncing within. She could feel her breath heaving. He came to her and sat beside, and gazed in front at the children. Anamika did not know what to do. She just held her ground, her bench, her seat. But the feel of his presence so close, so near was steaming her skin with a persistent blush!
It was he who spoke first. He said, yes, he had said, “Will you marry me lady.” It felt not like a question, not even a request. It felt rather like a statement. Bold crisp and touching. And it had her aghast! It was quite more than unexpected. She sees a guy a moment and the very next he comes to propose her for a life together! She is too baffled to word anything. She remains quiet.
The guy speaks again, “Shall I take that for a yes”. Now the girl looks into him, his bold beaming being. He definitely was any girls dream prince. A strong figure, broad shoulders, tough chin with a soft lightness in his eyes and a subtle smile on his lips. She looked into his eyes, which looked back with admiration and charm, and she said, “but you know nothing of me.” He said, “there remains nothing to be known which shall need consideration”. She was thrilled.
She could feel something within, which she hadn’t felt all her life thus and she knew this had to be it. That this had to be her prince charming and that with him, she shall live that happy and content life, suffused with love and care that is the dream of every girl. She looks down, her eye-lids with their curved lashed veiling her eyes from this man’s view. Then Anamika says, “I shall like to marry you too.”
Then he touched her hand and held her soft palm within his two big strong ones. And he said, “Thank you”.
Something stirred within her then. It shook her being, and welled her eyes. And a sense of confidence in him filled her heart that she had never felt for anyone. She said, “There is one thing that you should know of, though. My work! I give men carnal pleasure to earn my living.” As she said this, the strong palms that held her’s lightened. He looked frozen for a moment. It appeared like he was there but yet not. Not a muscle twitched and nor his gaze flinched. Then he slowly let her hand go and walked away, not looking back.
She remained behind, lone, alone, then since on. She has often wondered if its wrong to exploit ones resources. She was beautiful, charming, sensual and she banked on it. She would make men happy and earn her bread. She could not see anything wrong about the scheme. She still couldn’t.
But from that day, she never let any man near her. She had been chaste. She kept her physical being to self. Not in guilt, not in self-reproach. But in hope! In genuine heart-felt hope that may be, someday he shall return to that park, to that bench, to her and marry her. May he shall. He should!
“It very wonderful. I wake up before sunrise. The birds start chirruping. With the first rays of sun, I walk to fields with tea and biscuit for daddy in my bag. There be dew on the grass, catching the sun rays and splitting them into colors. The paddy crops lull nice in the morning breeze. There be birds in the corn field also. Daddy start the water pump and I sit with legs immersed in the cold water in the water channels. It all so nice and beautiful. But…”
“I don’t know. It only feel very terrible. It feel like the sky falling. But angry, I don’t know. What would have mom do anyway. I was nine then. It not rain that year. Our crops fail. My small brother sick. And mother expecting another baby. What else they do? There no food home. The money lender wont lend daddy any money. There nothing home to sell at the pawn shop. Brother need medicine. And mother all the more need food. They sell me I didn’t know then for how much. But madam keep telling me again again. She say. ‘2000 rupees, we spend 2000 rupees and all we get is burden. Cant you do work properly you lazy goose?!’ But I work very hard. But madam still scold. Guess I don’t do that good.”
Is it bad in here?
“No. I don’t know. I like don’t complain. I can’t. To whom I would, you tell me. But I get so little to eat. I go to sleep hungry every night. I always hungry. Two slices of bread and one cup of milk in the morning. A small bowl of rice with sambar in the noon. And one chappati in the night. I don’t get sleep well in the night. The kitchen floor, it hot in the night and mosquitoes bite. And it smells. But I don’t complain. I hear my stomach rumble in night. I feel cold too. Then I drink two glass of water and lie down to sleep again. It not nice. But at least, it’s something.”
Do they treat you well?
“I don’t know. I get two pairs of cloth every year. So by the end of each year, my cloth like torn rags. But master buy me needle and thread to mend. They say I mend good. When some guest come home, madam give me one nice cloth she keep inside in her box. She tell me to wear. I wear. I like that cloth. But when the guest leave, master ask me to wash that cloth and keep it back in box. She keep that box locked.”
Do they take you out?
“No. I came here when I nine. Now I fourteen. And these five years, I never seen anything outside. Sometimes I watch tv, sitting in a corner, seeing what the master and madam watch. Master tells I should not switch on tv. I will get shock and he will scold. So I don’t. But I see when master see tv. I like seeing tv. I also see outside the window in the kitchen. But madam say its bad habit. So I do that only when no one’s home.”
“Sometimes. Madam beat when I don’t do my work good. There is so much work every day. I tired. I drop things. Madam beat. I break thing, madam go very angry and beat. Madam say its only to make me good. That she helping me become better person when she beat me. But I think she beat me when she is angry from office or because master scold madam. She take it on me. I don’t tell her this. She will beat me more. I fear. But I think it is like this only. One day, madam was not home. Master was drinking. He ask me to dance. I dance. I don’t know to dance. And I fear he beat me for dancing bad. But he say I dance good. I feel happy. Then he ask me sit near. Master and madam never let me sit on chair. But that night, master make me sit with him on sofa. He then touch me. He then touch my chest and my legs. I feel very afraid. I want to run. But I fear master beat me. I sit there only. I don’t breath. He drink more and fall sleep. I run to kitchen and closed door. He didn’t come.”
What they do when they have to go out?
“They lock me in with some packets of biscuit. Master and madam both work. I stay alone and do work at home all day. If they go out on holiday, they lock me in. They tell me not to make noise. They also tell me not to switch lights on. So I don’t. Sometimes food go empty. But madam and master dont return. I feel very hungry then. I drink water. Lot of water. And I sleep.”
Do you think all this is unfair to you?
“I don’t know what you ask. I only know that I not happy. And that is wrong.”
You ever tried to run from here?
“No. I don’t try that. Where I go? My mother and father, they sell me. I don’t know where they are. I find them and go to them, they only sell me again. And I don’t know anyone else. I run away, I don’t get to eat even what I get here then.”
You believe in god?
“what is that?”
You ever feel there is some purpose to all of this? That it all has happened with a reason? And that someday it will all become all happy and nice again?