The boy’s toy.

Dear Mr. Invisible Bully,

It is my 4th birthday tomorrow. I am my mum’s favourite son, and my sister is her favourite daughter. It is a happy family. Though the upcoming birthday has filled me with a sense of dread and trepidation.

Now you might blink at my use of such big words, ‘dread’ and ‘trepidation’ while I just said my age to be 4 years (minus one day). It is just that I am syphoning the vocabulary of the future me through a giant black portal with shiny lights all around so as to make this a more cogent narrative.

So making allowance for that teensy bit of creative freedom, let’s get to the root of my dread. I want a Barbie for my birthday. My sister got one and I love it. But she just wouldn’t let me play with it. But my mum is planning to buy me a GI Joe set. Now you might wonder that I am caught up in the midst of childhood genderification. Well, possibly. Or maybe not. But I like what my sister got.

You know, mum got angry the other day when I lingered in the cloth store by a pink frock. I thought it was pretty and asked mum for it. She refused and was visibly disturbed. I notice such things. They think we kids don’t, but I do. Back home, mum had a long heated argument with mum. No, she didn’t speak to self, nor to her mirror reflection. I just got two mums. My mum married my mum. No dad. It’s allowed where we live. It made me no difference. I think. I am open-minded and accepting.

But mum was discussing with mum that maybe I needed a positive role-model. What they actually meant was a model for male-gender role. But they don’t get it. I don’t want to fit in a mould. I want to be me, whatever that may be. Though they are worried that a lack of a male presence at home is hampering my gender-awakening. Woah! I know, big talk, as if that’s even a thing. Is it? Be it what it may, but why need there be one anyway? I want to think thoughts of my own, feel emotions that are mine, be a person that I am to become based on my own individual inclinations. I don’t want to be impressed upon to fit in conventional social schemas. I want to be an original me.

Are you worried this would be the end of civilisation as we know it? All the social anarchy and break in custom such thoughts lead to. Well, don’t. Not all are me, just as I am not all. And I don’t want to be bullied to be like all. I just want to let be. But how do I tell my mums’ that I indeed want the Barbie. It would just spark another fight. I will have to compromise I guess. About time I learnt that trick of the adult.

A bear is cute and soft and fluffy while yet being a boy’s choice isn’t it? Yogi bear is a boy right! I would be allowed to get him as a present rather than that stupid GI Joe where we are meant to imagine battles and clarion calls?! Guess I will ask for a bear. For now. Though someday, I do want that barbie. And mums’, no, I want that regardless of your choice. I don’t think having had a dad would have changed it. But this is me brought up in the absence of dad talking. So who knows. Yet, either way, what’s wrong in wanting a Barbie? Why your guilt? Sister got it. I want it too.


She danced.

I watched my sister dance at the funeral of her husband. It wasn’t the frenetic swaying of a delirious mind. Nor was it in measured restraint. It was seamless, fluent, san all conscious effort. It felt the same as the day she danced when I told her that she had become an aunt, her movements sparkling of joy and pride. It was the same as when she got into the grad school for design, her life’s motive, her long-cherished desire. It was the same as when she fell in love and danced to let him know, that while her heart was all his, she couldn’t be. She bowed to her mother’s dying wish and married a guy of her family’s choosing. The guy, today, lying on the funeral pyre, was silenced in death. He didn’t hurt her, nor was he bad. He was a good fellow, kind and gentle. But she couldn’t bear to hold within a love she felt for else. She wrapped it deep within, where it simmered. One fine day, unbeknown of the cause, she cracked. Breaking the calm placid facade shot out the hand, her hand, grasping a knife in a tight clench. A cruel unfaltering slash, it hit an artery in his neck, and he ceased to be, diseased, sliding to the beyond in a gush of blood-red blood spurting from the gash. She was sane, oh yes, rational too. She just broke once, then, and the deed couldn’t be undone. Today, she danced in farewell to the guy, her erstwhile husband, caught in cross-fire of her unrequited love. It’s wasn’t his fault, nor her’s, or her mother’s who died while holding on to the wisdom and custom of the eras bygone. It just happened, and all she could do was to dance resigned to the fates design. She danced. She did.

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The town fair

The kid was wearing brown boots. His eyes simmered with the kind of hope that only innocence can offer. He had the string of a green hot-air-balloon pinched tight between his thumb and index finger. With the balloon bobbing in the evening breeze, he walked around alone, checking the various curiosities the town fair had to offer.

As he turned round a corner, by the alley behind the tent with the fortune-teller, the kid came across a boy with his tongue in the mouth of a girl. They were definitely kissing, but he thought they were doing it wrong. The lips should touch the cheeks and the tongue definitely stays safely inside one’s own mouth! Lost to the novelty of this gross spectacle, the kid’s grip on the string loosened which sent the balloon flying.

The balloon climbed, first with a sense of immediacy, and then with a lugubrious slowness as the air within began to cool and it reached a height where the air outside was equally dense and it could rise no further. An ambitious sparrow in the hope of setting a new record for highest flight amongst its clan blinked at the green round shiny thing at head-level ahead. It swerved right and gave it a miss. But given its meek nature, it thought better to take the green thing for a predator that inhabits those particular heights and started making a quick descent to inform its clan of this new discovery.

It flew in a straight line, glidding, cutting through the wind, toward the thicket at the end of a bridge over the river that ran north of the town. Arriving at its nesting site, it set a chirrupy chatter that was picked up by a lone bloke standing on the bridge beside, staring down into the water flowing in swirling turbulent eddies. He was tired, despondent with despair. His parrot had died, he had lost his favourite pebble, his parent’s were having a divorce, and his best friend had gone to the fair without him. He felt alone, lost, and weary. Yearning for love but feeling barricaded all around he wanted to jump down the bridge into the water and end it all.

He made up his mind, climbed the safety railing, and looked up to say goodbye to the world just when a green round something glittered in the sky above. Against the orange shade of the evening twilight, the green formed a pretty harmony of colours, and queerly it seemed to grow bigger with time. He let his gaze follow its flight as it descended from the sky, still hovering in the air, moving in slow stutters toward the town.

Forgetting his original intent, the kid got down the railing and broke into a cheery gallop to where the green round shiny thing was to land. He would get it, and will run to his friend to share with him his find.

And thus, there occurred a town fair such, once, afar!

Jim’s last

design1There was a screech. Yeah, that word’s onomatopoeia; sounds like the sound it means. First the screech, then a dull thud, a moment of muted stillness and a slow rise of strained human chatter, in that order. The elderly man who was seated beside our young protagonist till a moment ago, was run over by a speeding car driven by a concerned husband who wanted to get his pregnant wife to the hospital. Her water had broken and it was to be their first. Little did they know of the elderly man before that moment. He was a common man, taught English at the City College, and was survived by his dog. Don’t worry, the dog, a brown brawny spaniel, was later adopted by their understanding neighbor. This little story is about the hour before the accident, as the bus rode out the city into the suburbs while the spirited youth was trying to have a conversation with the elderly man on that ill-fated though pleasant-weathered evening. You must pardon the incongruous upbeat weather, it just happened to be restful, retiring, with the sky smeared in shades of orange and yellow, with the variegated variety of clouds sailing over the pleasingly scented breeze. There was a touch of cold. Just enough to make you button the collar of the shirt as the elderly man, lets say, Mr. Jim had.

The youth, a bumbling bundle of optimism, Sam suites him right, found the seat by Mr. Jim vacant and sat beside. Mr. Jim did not bother to turn and look. He was lost in thought. He had been thinking of carrots. For some inexplicable reason, while reading out Antony’s stirring rhetoric from Julius Caesar to his class earlier in the day, he found his mind’s eye sizing up a carrot in its vivid detail with its orange-red grainy tapering surface, topped by a bunch of green juicy stalks. For the life of him, he couldn’t fathom what led to that thought. Here Antony was craftily inciting the Roman crowd, appealing to their hearts with why Caesar had been wronged, and he was thinking carrots! As scenes by the road flit by, his eyes saw not. It seemed important to know why carrots. The intrigue was compelling. Just then, he felt a nudge. He turned to behold the apologetic Sam’s beaming foolish smile. ‘Hello there’, Jim greeted, holding on to his etiquettes. Sam waved in return. ‘Nice weather, ain’t it sir!’, he added. Jim wanted to correct him, but he let the colloquial slide. He just gave a silent nod and was about to turn around to look out the bus window when a thought occurred. He asked him, ‘So son, what do you want to become when you grow up?’

Sam was surprised a bit, but he liked the invitation for a more serious conversation than the weather. ‘I want to be a politician and change this country for the better’, he said. Jim didn’t say anything. He let his sight linger on him for a while longer, then his lips broke into a good-natured smile. He liked energetic idealists. He was one once. And with time he Black-And-White-Abstract-Wallpapers-6got tired, and he had made himself inconspicuous in this grand scheme of life. It isn’t that circumstances defeated him, nor that he was strained long enough to weaken his will. He just grew tired. With days, his will gradually ebbed. It could instead be reasoned that he didn’t fuel it enough and again to keep going. One day, he found self convinced with the rhetoric ‘why bother’ and had decided to fit in. He stopped making noise. He gave up his job as attorney. No more litigation in public interest. No more serving writ petitions to factories for breaching environment protection norms. No more of that fight, while meaningful and important, yet which for some reason had now come to feel a bother. A burden. He had energy; ample skill and wits as well. Man he was good with rhetoric. But he just did not want to go on. Took a job as lecturer, and decided to spend time reading and teach what he read. Feeling the weight of the silence heavy, Sam asked him if he liked books.

Yes, Jim liked books. But Jim was no more interested in this conversation. Sam, with his energy and enthusiasm, and with that agenda for social crusade was disturbing his peace. Jim had achieved a tranquil state of stillness in his mind, and he liked no ripples in that pool. He smiled at Sam, wished him luck with politics and got up. It wasn’t his stop yet, but he had a growing desire to get out the bus. He decided to walk the way back. Anyway the weather was pleasant. He requested the driver to let him out. The grim respectful poise Jim posed was compelling. The driver slowed, stopped the bus, and opened the door. Jim’s last thought was of carrots, and the moment he stepped out and the car hit him throwing his mortal coil 5 ft up in the air, his mind blinked the image of Caesar crunching a carrot, the next second, the entire Roman mob was crunching carrots, and there was a vague sense of weightlessness, and then Jim ceased to exist. He now lay as a mass of bleeding flesh, huddled in the road, with the husband out the car, kneeling by his side.

Sam sat glued to his seat. It was not that he didn’t care. He just felt locked in that moment, as if the transient nature of life, with the absolute certainty of death lay unfurled before him. He felt a knot in his throat while his eyes welled up. He thought about his sister home. He wanted to go home. While the husband, mortified, felt the pulse of the body lying before; this though only seemed a formality given the crack in Jim’s skull that was pouring blood. Certain there was nothing to be done, he got back into the car and drove slowly away. He had placed his visiting card by Jim’s corpse for police to contact him when they arrive to the scene. They would in a while. Someone would call them. He had something else he first needed to take care. His wife’s on-going labor. As the car was pulling away, Sam’s mind involuntarily registered the number-plate. He would remember those digits for the rest of his life. He also noticed the staff of Asclepius with the sacred snake coiled around, the Doctor’s symbol, stuck to the top right corner of the rear windshield. And for some reason Sam felt it a tad incongruous. The bus pulled away too. And the doctor’s wife gave birth to a son an hour and a half later, who was not named Jim.

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Conflict of interest

courtroom-drama-1It was a dull noon and the court room was packed to its capacity. From my seat at the distant corner, i could clearly see the accused. Somewhere in his early thirties, he had an athletic frame and a rugged profile, with his week old stubble adding to the ardour of gloom enveloping him. I thought he was handsome, quite too handsome for a convict pressed with charges of murder. Though it was certain that he was to walk free.

The prosecution did not press any charges and the defence, the state attorney pleaded self-defence. The incident was still fresh in our minds and had obtained good media coverage. It was a weekend about a fortnight before, and in the middle of a bustling mall, he had shot a man wrapped in explosives. Over a hundred lives were saved at the cost of one. And the man standing in the convict’s pit rose to immediate fandom.

The trial was brief. Almost a formality. The defence argued self-defence under Section 96-106, quoting ‘right to private defence of the body of his own and the body of any other person’. The prosecution made some preliminary probing as to from where he had got his gun and if he had a license. Which he did have. And the prosecution had rest their case. The defence also did like-wise. But it was a queer thing that the judge had a quizzical look.

Instead of breaking session to write his judgement, he thought better to ask the convict a question. Now it’s not a common thing for a judge to adorn the lawyer’s cape of posing questions, but it seems it’s a lawful thing. Before anyone could raise a brow, the judge stated that as per The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Section 165, the judge has the power to put     questions. The judge said, ‘the accused had shot the bomber saving lives of many. The shot was fired moments after the bomber revealed his identity by unzipping his jacket in the crowded mall. And the bullet hit the bomber, piercing holes into his lungs that filled with blood and knocked him down in seconds. But as the post-mortem report states, the bullets entered the victim from his back. How did the accused realise that it was a bomber when the bomb-vest was visible only from the unzipped front portion of his jacket and the shooting occurred within moments such that the bomber did not have any time to turn over for the accused to see the explosives?’

There was an audible gasp in the court room. And i was glad none realised that the loudest was mine. The accused though remained silent. This was something unsettling through-out. This man had shot someone who was going to take lives of many. He saved lives. But why is he so gloomy about it all? As if his soul was stricken with the weight of a suffering untold.

The accused maintained his silence. He could very well have kept so. Under Section 121 to 131, the accused has the right to refuse answer, and the judge would have brushed away his curiosity as an imaginary quirk and closed the case, but the accused spoke. But before that, his eyes loomed over the room, and for a brief moment caught mine. And i could see pain in those deep dark eyes as i felt in my own. Pain i so long had forgotten about, and only then did i realise that my eye’s were watering in torrents as just a moment latter did the accused’.

The accused sobbed to the surprise of all. It wasn’t making sense. And then he said things we all found difficult to place in context. He said it was pre-meditated. That he had intended to kill the bomber, the victim, and with that intention he had been romping the city for days. And the moment he caught sight of him that day at the mall, his hand reached for the pistol he had kept in his canister and almost involuntarily, in a blind rage, bullets fired to bore holes into his body.

My breath became heavy, eyes blurry and my tears tuned in with a dull aching sob that betrayed the pain in my heart. But the pain in the heart of the accused was very palpable. This victim had come into his life, allegedly stole his love interest, and not able to accept the fact, convinced that the man had somehow bewitched his lady love, flaming in rage he had gone about on his hunt to track him down and put him to death, as he indeed succeeded to on the fateful day.

The lawyers blinked in amazement at the turn of event, and the judge shifted uneasily in his seat. This man, going by the media hype, the god-sent saviour, who could have walked scot-free, had conscience-stricken confessed. A confession that none demanded. And one which none could have figured for all practical possibility. But given he had made the court aware of his motives, the judge, despite not wanting to, had to consider the case in the light of new evidence, of the aforementioned founded motive, and the intent to cause grievous harm resulting in death. He was put in a position to declare the murderer, a saviour, as a murder per se, though a saviour nevertheless.

The judge picked his pen to write his judgement. There was a hush in the court that none had foreseen. Each has a bedazzled look, as apprehensive as amused. But the sense of unreality was looming at large upon every face. For their reality had been shaken. Something that they had so far believed as the case to be, and as the only case that could indeed be, had been undone and the re-interpretation was a difficult version to put up with. Their hero had been reduced to a mere murderer.

But his murder consequented good. A huge good to many. Shouldn’t he be awarded for it? Does the fact that he didn’t intend the good diminish in any way the good that indeed he had consequented? Why does the action, which thus far had seemed just, seem otherwise at face of his new-found intent? Is it possible to divorce his intent from his action? Can his action be rewarded while his intent punished? Should he be forgiven in good faith? Or, he intended and consequented a crime in its own right and thus, stood guilty? The questions in the minds of all were many, but my mind was blank. And my heart, a gripping agony. An agony, that only his eyes saw. His deep dark eyes, that searched for an apology.

I couldn’t stand it any longer. I stood, and left the court-room. But my legs couldn’t carry me far. I stumbled and sat by the stairs, far from that room, far enough to not hear any judgement that would be made. And far from his searching gaze, that man, the saviour, but in my eyes, the murderer, who killed my husband in cold vein, who just couldn’t accept that i had fallen out of love with him. And this man that i fell for, though, now it seems, happened to be fallen too, in spirit as too as now in body.

The Painter of Ambiguity

painter-outline-coloring-page“I see the roots of a tree. But instead of digging deep into the stratum, it’s been laid on the land turned up towards the sky. To the left of it, I see a bottle of rum, with an iridescent aura about.  And there is the face on the right, one that’s bereft of any features san a sardonic smile. Yes, that’s what I see, the roots, the rum and the sardonic smile”.

There was a pause as Tim finished putting forth his perspective of Mr. Umberto’s painting, and then with a voice crackling with enthusiasm Mr. Umberto said, “Very well my worthy lad. Very well said. I won’t negate any of your observations. At least, not yet. But my boy, tell me, what do you infer. What’s beyond what’s apparent. What do you think has the artist, which being me, pardon my immodesty, is trying to convey?”

Tim screwed his brows and thought for a while. Philip and Gracy, who were till then standing beside Mr. Umberto crowded about the painting and dwelled deep into it. They spoke not a word amidst self for Mr. Umberto had told them not to confer amongst themselves. Each were to form their own original uninfluenced impression. And it was for Tim to present foremost.

Tim started with his explanation, “Mr. Umberto, I think the upturned roots represent chaos, disharmony on earth. The sardonic smile, appreciating the disharmony instead of condemning it and the bottle of rum is the cause for it. Its like, you have tried to say that intoxication is the reason for discord and disharmony in the society.” And at this, Mr. Umberto burst out laughing. “Elemental Tim, elemental”, he quipped.

As he caught his breath, he spoke back, “Though one needs to interpret a painting at its most simple sense, simple by no means equates with naivety Tim. And for the sake of Vinci, give me some credit! You think that’s what I would try to depict. Ok, lets deal it your way. Tell me, shouldn’t the face have a serene smile instead of sardonic on the sight of chaos when it’s under the influence of alcohol? Alcohol relieves the person, there is no reason to feel any unwonted treacherous joy. All he feels is a pure pent up emotion, be it bliss or torment. Never the secondary feeling like the one’s which bring a grin on your face. Gracy, what do you think?”

“Sir, I actually see different things on the painting” said Gracy in a remorseful tone. Tim glared but Mr. Umberto gave her a big smile. He though let it off quickly and said, “Gracy, that’s a nice point. But presuming what Tim saw to be indeed the case, how would you explain?” Gracy was quick to come up with an explanation. She reasoned, “maybe the bottle of rum isn’t actually a bottle of rum. It’s a bottle of elixir. That’s why there is the iridescent aura about. And the tree stands for the societal beliefs prevalent around. By the upturning of the root, you are trying to say that, to realise the elixir, the state of blissful existence, the societal beliefs which actually are the social values of today, need to be upturned. And an intellect, one who has seen the truth but is beaming at the notion that how vain he will be thought of by the society if they come to know what he thinks, smile that sardonic smile in appreciation of his own vanity.”

brainMr. Umberto had an enigmatic smile pasted on his lips. He savoured the moment. This is what he relished most in life. It gave him a ‘high’ every time someone touched a new height in intellectual conjecturing when faced with an obscure piece of art. It is simply astounding that in how subtle steps one can make a quantum perspective shift just by the virtue of a brave imaginative original mind. He pat Gracy on her arm and said, “wonderful my child. Wonderful.” And with a crook of his brow, he said, “this would also be a way of explaining it.” Tim, Gracy and Philip knew this beforehand though. They knew the height of Mr. Umberto’s perception. And it was a long long way more subtle and yet absolutely ironical than this.

Mr. Umberto turned to Philip and asked him for his version of the facts depicted on the canvas. Philip had already constructed his answer. He replied in polite submission, “Mr. Umberto, I see a fire. The root that Tim said, it looks like fire with flames spewing about to me. And the bottle with aura about, its actually a lion with a majestic mane about. And the face with smile is actually the moon. Sir, I see a fire, the moon and a lion in there.” Tim started to protest but Mr. Umberto quietened him. He said with an almost parental smile, “Tim, if there is one thing to which we have absolute and complete right for, that is to form an opinion of our own. Hope you won’t forbade that.” Tim nodded. Then Mr. Umberto told Philip to furnish the artist’s motto for his version of the painting.

Philip started, “Sir, the painter has shown a paradox here. All mammals except for humans are afraid of fire. But this lion is actually bathing in its warmth on a full moon night. They say, there are no paradoxes in reality. If one ever occurs, you must check your premises again. And if we do that here, maybe, the lions aren’t those that we see today. It’s a different world and in it, the lion’s are occupying the niche that humans do in nature. They are the master’s of fire, not us. Maybe we weren’t there on the planet at all. Or maybe we and the lions are co-dominating that earth. Either way, the painter has tried to convey that we can’t take notions for granted. The absolutes are relative. While when one thing appears true, another, though not mutually compatible, could also possibly be true. The only need for it to be so being, the right perspective, the right vantage point to view from.”

As Philip finished, Mr. Umberto again gave his enigmatic smile. He looked up at Gracy and she gave in saying, “Sir, given his version, I couldn’t have conjured better.” Mr. Umberto smiled again and said, “Philip, you make me feel proud about your flexible perspective. You could be very true. Maybe not. Lets request Gracy to present her version. So child, what do you see?”

As if a long before wish was relinquished, Gracy began in a content tone, “Mr. Umberto, I see a whole different picture. Tim’s root and Philip’s fire actually look like a bunch of weeds to me. And the lion with its mane is in fact a saint, a yogi with long hair and beard almost drowning his face. And the moon is not it or face, but a clock. Sir, I see the weeds, the clock and a saint in there.” Mr. Umberto knew, as well as he knew that Tim and Philip knew too, that they were in for a joyous ride along the contours of Gracy’s intellect.

Mr. Umberto said, “same query to you as well child. To what do you then ascribe the painter’s motive?” Gracy beamed a smile that very much resembled Mr. Umberto’s, at least in essence. She stated, “Sir, it’s a very simple logic that the painter is trying to showcase I believe. By saint, he is trying to say it’s the enlightened one. One who knows what’s behind the apparent, beyond the illusion of the real. One who knows the real. The clock is to bring in the notion of time. He wants to say that there exists truths, eternal one’s that the likes of the saints grasp. The purpose of the weed being to get a bearing of the saint’s intellect. Maybe the painter is trying to say that the saint sees the beyond. But doing that is not by uncovering some hidden treasure-trough of knowledge, it’s not in getting to know things that none knows, but its actually in knowing, in within what we know, what is weed and what isn’t.  Enlightment is in knowing what’s significant from what isn’t.  It’s in knowing what’s real and what’s not. It’s not in discovering a previously undiscovered real. But in realising what’s not real. Maybe that’s the essence of eternal knowledge. That’s the essence of enlightenment. Maybe that’s the real truth.”

Mr. Umberto was quiet. He did not smile. But still the look he had was one of appreciation. An appreciation that the able gives to one at par. As he regained his composure, he said, “that’s too a way of looking at it my child.” And he winked at her. Gracy was overjoyed at her version being accepted as that of others, because she felt it was bit stretched though seemingly subtle, but she, just as Tim and Philip were eager to know the real perspective with which Mr. Umberto had painted it. The real truth behind the painting. The real motto the artist had intended to convey.

PhilosophyWhen insisted, Mr. Umberto smiled. It was that big heartful smile that makes you feel to surrender in blind faith to the person. And with a warm voice he said, “my motto behind the painting was to make you realise that reality is a hallucination. A very creative ever-morphing tenacious hallucination for that case.”

All three looked stumped and puzzled. Mr. Umberto made most of the pause and let their puzzlement sink in. He continued, “tell me Tim, your version was just as believable and possibly true as your’s Philip, and very much as your’s Gracy. Then, why don’t we believe them to be truth, but consider only my intension to be truth. In fact, all three of you hallucinated. Given we consider hallucination to be faulty perception, all three of you perceived else from what I intended, but yet, you did perceive it as good as if it was real to you. You Tim, you saw roots and sardonic smile and a bottle of rum while you Gracy, you saw the saint and weeds and clock. Your hallucination was just as real to you as if it were reality indeed. But then yet, why do you insist on me telling my version of reality. What makes you think I hold special vantage point to observe. Why can’t my truth be just another hallucination, another version of reality?”

At this Gracy interrupted, “But Mr. Umberto, because it’s you who painted it?” Mr. Umberto expected this. He calmly said, “So what?! To interpret it, you need to observe. And there hides no truth in it beyond what the eyes can see and the mind interpret. While each did interpret of their own, so would I. While of certain you three hallucinated, so would I, because it’s just another way to explain it. As I put before, I need have no special significance annoted to my vantage point, by the very virtue of the simple fact that it is just yet another vantage point.”

All three were quiet but had an understanding look on their face. “Then what is the truth?” asked Philip. At this Mr Umberto, as if awaiting the moment said, “None!” All three were aghast. He continued, “There exists no real intention behind this painting. Just various versions for each to conjure. Similarly, there exists no absolute truth, just versions for each to believe.”

Tim, not able to restrain himself, “Sir, be it what it may, what was you intension, I mean your version behind this painting?” At this, Mr Umberto grinned. “My child, none again. I blind-folded myself and splashed ink. The painting is the result of it. All your interpretations added all significance and meaning as against its lack-lustre by its creator.”

Tim pouted but Philip and Gracy smiled in understanding. And they winked amidst themselves as if sharing a secret which Mr Umberto knew not. He told them it was enough for the day and dismissed them from his studio.

Outside, Tim said, “he was hallucinating so imaginatively so far and the end, wow! he did not have to plunge our expectations like that!” Gracy and Philip smiled. Philip patted Tim consolingly, “come on man, as if you did not expect that. Can’t believe you can still fall for it!” At this Gracy tugged at Philip, “actually we all fell for it right Philip”, and Philip blushed confessingly.

Tim asked, “do you think his intellectual ability and his prowess to argue could be brought about by the stroke?” Gracy thought a while, “it will take a while to know. We need to find some one from his past life and enquire. All that we know is, he is a left-handed left-dominant painter with a left-sided hemiplegia due to a stroke in his right parietal lobe and who has now transgressed into left-sided hemineglect. A classic case of anosognosia. And to top it all, he is defending his neglect of paralysis with Freudian confabulation. A rare, one-of-its-kind case. And a profusely philosophical intellectual one I would say.”

“But be it way it may,” Tim grinned, “Mr. Umberto doesn’t know the greatest hallucination of all! That there was no painting that we were discussing. There was neither a canvas nor easel. Our observations, we conjured from thin air. But for him it was all so very real.” Gracy said in a deep tone, “while we entered the room presuming its he who is hallucinating, he convinced us that right now, this very moment, even you and me are. Who is to say otherwise!”


God’s Dilemma

potter and pottery_thumb[1]The story that follows is an ancient one. So old that there remains no other material artefact from that era, except for it. Passed along the longest lineage of generations, it has been kept as a secret closely guarded. The possessors of this story have been meek wise men, who knew the power it contained. Rumoured to have its origin in the most ancient of civilisations, many still believe it to be a myth.

In a land afar, there lived a potter. He lived in a hut at the edge of the village and subsisted himself by selling the pots he made. The joy of creating something from nothing, this joy of creation, was all the contentment in life he needed and he lived on.

It was a hobby of his to make toys and show-pieces for his own merry in his spare hours. On a workless day, with hours to spare, he thought of making something quite  big. He piled a mound of clay and started carving. He began with no pre-conceived picture in his mind and let his hands and his mind play to their tune while his eyes kept silent. He immersed self into the task. He carved and drilled and smoothened and pinched the mound, as his intuition took him. And by eve when he finished and his sub-conscious artistic stupor reverted to conscious, he was stuck dumb by his own doing.

Stood in front was the most remarkable think his eyes had ever happened to gaze upon. He had morphed the pile of clay into the statue of a woman, more beautiful than one that had ever been born and possibly would. The very instant he fell in love.

All day long and all night hence, all he could ever think about was the woman he had made. He would wake up early and finish the days due of pots, have them sold in the nearby market. With the bronze he would get in return, he would buy bread, butter and milk. He would return home e-arly by eve, dine and then spend all the rest of his time looking at the statue in a dreamy stupor.

And then when sleep really came, there came dream too. And the statue sprinkled alive in the dream. She came to life. He courted her. She fell in love too and they made a lovely couple. Home, children and pets, he lived a life so much he cherished. Then with the break dawn, he woke from the dream and began his rituals anew.

As time slipped by, the dreams he lived became more and more significant. They almost attained the proportions of reality and the reality started fading into a dream. He lived with his love, fathered children and grazed his cattle’s, while dreamt of making pottery, having them sold and buying his supper.

He lived thus, content, lone, fulfilled, till when one day the Almighty appeared before him. He appeared at night when the potter was asleep, dreaming his happy reality. God shook him awake, rousing him from his wonderful reality, the dream. The potter regained his senses and was wonderstruck to see the God, with anguish and fazzle streaked over his poise.

The God was on his nerves. He said, “How on earth can you live this deception! What you live is a lie. A farce. You live a dream that exists not, while the reality that I so pain-stakingly conjured, you have reduced to a dream. You need to amend.”

The potter remained completely unmoved. He said in reply, “The world we live is yet another deception. What wrong have I done in choosing which deception to believe.”
But the God was quick to reply, “I have made things with a purpose. You have conjured a world of your own and you live in it. If each person does so, each lives in a world separate. No one connects. No society is formed. No civilisation exists. And in the far-sight no life exists too. You never attract a woman and you never mate. The race of mankind ends with one dreamy generation”.

The potter thought for a while. He restrained from speaking till God’s breathe quietened. Once there was repose, he spoke, “So what? Human’s as we know come to not exist, but then so what. How should it change things! Life isn’t created with a purpose. I wasn’t born with a reason. No one is. We find a reason for our-self. A reason which we give to self for existing, and pursue it as an aim. There existed a niche in the society that I filled, the one of a potter, and I still fill it. I do not cause the society to stumble. I just believe else as reality and the society a dream that I still sustain. Moreover, like I proposed of each giving self a reason, I gave me to live to dream as the reason to live.”

God interposed, “But what if each man…”

aquinas-21 (1)The potter continued, “Each man won’t. There exists an inherent randomness in the universe. As am a part of it, so are my ideas, my ideals and my notions. And they are subject to these rules of randomness as well. What I believe, what I choose, not all will. The world as we know, the life as you know, shall remain to exist, in spite of me.”
The God did not speak a while. Then he asked, “As you do exist, why not leave a mark on reality?” Potter spoke in reply, “I do! I do that in my reality, what you consider a dream.”

God thought, “What he says, fits. His arguments seem to make so perfect a sense. Couldn’t he be right! Could he be right. Maybe he indeed gets to choose what’s real as well…” and with a startle he enquires, “How come a potter as you are be so versed with the philosophies of life?”

The potter beamed a smile. He came to the God, hugged him and said, “How wouldn’t I! Well because am the God who created you. Am your God.”