Lazy Ways to Truth
Corona pandemic is one of the most difficult phases in our history. It robbed many a smile from so many beautiful eyes. Streams of individual pains flooded our terrain and formed a massive river of collective miseries. However, we have to walk through the dark night to welcome a new dawn. Of course, we did it. Many fell on the perilous path. It’s a tribute to those who unfortunately couldn’t make it. It’s also for those who made it. These common man’s chronicles are in celebration of life and living against all odds.
LOVE: The Ultimate Alchemy
This book is meant to set up an instructional manual to help one rise higher on the scale of evolution by changing one’s limited love, defined by family and relations, to universal love for a compassionate and all-loving being. Love for your man, your woman, your family, friends and near and dear ones is the seed that holds the potential to blossom into universal love for all and everything making you a loving person. So guys start your journey on the love path as a lover, as a caring husband, wife, parent or friend and proceed onto nurture the seed to help it grow into a robust tree of loving kindness for all. This basically is supposed to be the natural evolution course for your consciousness attached to this mater, this mix of materials called body comprising water and few kilograms of matter found in earth. The consciousness, the blueprint, the carrier of your previous journeys, is on the path of evolution, to merge into the all pervading super-consciousness, like a drop of water is moving to mix with the seas.
Ice Cubes on Desert Sands
It’s an anthology of following stories:
- A Ladleful of Lilting Memories
- She is Cheaper than a Buffalo
- All that Woman is
- Virtue in the Womb of Vice
- Call Me Some Other Day
- Nameless Graffiti on the Wall
- Highway Murder
- A Drop of Love in the Poisonous Pond
- The Undying Flame of Love
- The Parrot and the Old Sparrow
- A Gram in the Heart and a Ton in the Mind
- A Soul’s Pyre
- The Old Moon and the Imperilled Landscape
- An Ice Cube on Desert Sands
- Gone with Colours and a Smile
- Love More, Hate Less
- Pegs and Ropes of the Mind
- The Rapist
- The Point Where Duty Turns into Hate
- A Mouse on the Ground, A Lion in the Mind
- The Hangman
- The Remnants of a Dream
- Miracle Boy
- The Dust around Her Feet
- A Long Walk to Freedom
Lost in Red Mist
Ordinary beings possess extraordinary potential to win against odds, to jump over hurdles, to smile over tears, and, most importantly, to be happy when there aren’t enough reasons to be. They are the faceless constituents of a massive commonality. They are surrounded by a swiping generality. They are coloured in the monochromes of mundane reality. Still they are special. We have to acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary in the ordinary people. I see heroes and heroines in my simple characters. They fight, and oftentimes fail, but write a little passage in the infinite book of life: an ordinary life that was lived substantially. On the small stage of life, they live very intensely. Somehow, the world would not be the world that is still beautiful without their contribution. They heave humanity onwards in its march to some better destination.
She is a courtesan fighting for a respectable identity in the quagmire of degenerated nobility, wars, intrigues, debauchery, lust, and, last but not the least, love.
She is a foreign tourist in India—raped—picking up the fragments of her violated self, walking with bruised honour, her innate goodness intact, to reach the house of justice to salvage her identity, to redeem her pride.
A circumstantial pawn in the checker-work of sex trade, she passes much of her youth in the muck of lust and flesh trade, to finally redeem herself, to free herself in her forties, to begin a new life.
Kashmir is burning and in the bigger fire are smouldering little worlds of common hopes, mundane dreams, routine aspirations and regular cravings.
He is huge and lifts unthinkable weights for a living, goes on living and lifting weights only to be crushed by circumstances.
On a badly stomped platform, he gathers the nameless pieces of his dusted identity to have a name, a face, an identity of a common person belonging to the normal world.
In the Tsunami ravaged Andaman, she, an Australian anthropologist, survives and looks with hope at the remnants including the sole surviving Shompen tribal.
On the devastated eastern coast of India, he, a mere kid, takes the onerous task of caring for his still smaller sister, while the world around seethes in chaos.
He dreams big from his small village, only realizing later that the dreams which grow in disproportion to one’s circumstances are as good as nightmares.
He, an old man staying alone with a cat, patches up the holes in his present through tales of the past, to survive, expecting a painless end in the future.
She, a Western tourist at Rishikesh, opens her spirits, while a whole world drags around her feet.
A Half House
It’s a pickled, various flavoured, cross-genre pill of immediate taste. There are unforgivingly apolitical outpours of the helpless common man; there are magical realist traces of a pseudo-reality trying to portray a better, more convenient world; there are poetic outpours in prose through heart-touching little anecdotes; there are off-beat, unconventional attempts to lay bare a-bit-possible aspect of history; there are abstract thoughts that may capture any context as per the reader’s suitability; there are not-so-fictitious versions of the happenings that matter to the common man; there is flailing, browbeating tug of war among the religion, faith, belief and non-belief; there are large cynical pools, common collectivities of the common man’s helpless grudges against the larger forces…It is like T20 cricket, fast paced, expected, unexpected, unorthodox literary hits to the fence. It basks in convenient improvisations of style and substance. The creativity set free of the conventional genres and bound ideas. It captures the realities lying in dust at the mundane level, polishes the titbits of socio-historical facts with the crude, judgmental brush of a common man who is not bothered about the burden of his own name and identity.
As mentioned it’s a cross-genre experimentation equipoised between fiction and creative non-fiction. The narrative moves on the tightrope held between the poles of fiction and creative non-fiction. The work’s overall genre would still be fiction given the tantalizing twists of tiny plots having common and not-so-common characters telling their little stories and opinions born of their petty cynicism on the basis of little grudges, disappointments and failures where they deem themselves to be the victims at the hands of the ‘system’.
Across the smooth fictionalized pastures of fancy and tragedies, the reader will find the crags, the stony outcrops of cynical, small-time opinions about the larger world, a common man’s pot-shots at the so called bigger destiny-defining elements controlled by the mightier personalities. The non-fiction interjections are also not the typical non-fictitious assessments of the reality; these at least carry the charm of fiction in that they are almost unexpected versions of the convenient portrayal of the things that are important and that we are interested in.
To clearly tilt the work towards the genre of fiction, there are across the stories portrayals of easily recognized characters who act, behave and tell their stories at different places in the book. A common man always bats on a slippery wicket and takes to any hitting posture that will at least avoid his fall; he cannot expect to primarily hit the ball to the fence with a cemented conviction about something; he has to bat, but he has to avoid his fall primarily and then grab whatever the slip-shoddy, fall-avoiding swing of the bat might fetch him.
The characters, ideas, opinions, scenarios, and happenings cover a broad range of issues ranging from wage earners to farmers, professor, corporate high-fi’s, the politicians, young girls working to carve out their dreams in a rapidly changing India, lonely single retired persons, retired military people, frustrated youngsters coming to terms with the life’s uncontrollable elements, etc.
Through different narratives, involving characters drawn from different walks of life, there is an effort to put the common man of India with his slipping footholds against the face of varied bouncers and fluctuations at the public level during the crucial two years before Modi’s emergence at the national level. It depicts the helpless swayings of the common man against the gusts of strong buffeting winds striking their knowing, unknowing, struggling selves, ultimately taking them into the folds where majority of them eventually land up.
This cocktail involving fiction and creative non-fiction will definitely give the readers a literary high.
Beyond and Beneath
It is a long story, slowly moving like a broad river in its journey through the plains. It is just an effort to highlight some sober facts like the true meaning of nationalism, religion, politics and humanism. The work has very sharp political connotations. But I would like to clarify that while espousing the cause of clean politics, I have taken very dagger-sharp cuts at certain political forces whose brand of politics results in reversing the basic meanings of religion and nationalism. Also, it is for sure that all such literary efforts from my side are just a battle cry against bad politics, rather than going against any particular political stream. By having creative cuts at the razor-sharp edges of most of the political blocks in India, I have tried to carve out a straight-faced deity whom people have in mind when they envision their interests in the safe hands of the state.
One of the characters is a beautiful girl named Phulva, the gypsy girl. Through the trials and tribulations of her beautiful path through the society of the settlers, I have tried to depict how these almost stateless, religionless people come into friction with the sedentary society to create sometimes ecstatic and oftentimes tragic episodes. She smiles like a lotus in the perilous waters of a muddy pond. Also accompanied is the pleasantly sweet-sour path of the now-vanishing nomadic culture that once caressed the settled society with the suddenness of a fresh and fragrant gust of wind. When the gypsies pitch up their campsite on the fringe of settled—and the so-called civilized society—always there are showers and sparkles as the merging fronts of two different entities rub past each other.
The main protagonist is a lame Hindu religioner. Well so much for his Villainy! But there are reasons for badness. After detailing the circumstantial forces, which put him on the path of selfishness—and ultimately his brand of utilitarian Hinduism—I have tried to depict him under the light of multifaceted sun of faith. Through the testing admixture of religion, spirituality, blind faith and superstition, I have tried to churn out substantive meanings, which have eluded the mankind puzzled by conflicting dilemmas of faith, superstition, ritualism, or the religiondom overall. At the other end is his guru, the man with the real, selfless, utility-less mission of spiritual awakening. Through this contrasting set of religious personalities, I have made a humble effort to point out a little arc along the infinitely drawn out compassionate folds and contours of Hinduism.
Heartily mixed up in the silent pace of the tale is the old Muslim fisherman. The silently brooding—and expertly following the principals of humanism—frail man plays a far-far weightier role in the tale with his effortless manoeuvres instigated by a heart lit by the unsung lore of true humanity. The man from Bengal, a direct victim of the partition-time butcheries, carries along the seemingly insignificant path with firm, humanistic strides.
Then there are smaller players: the disciples, good and bad dogs, stoically suffering animals like donkeys in the caravans, and plainly villainous bunch of thugs who can always put their foul smell in any fragrant orchard—all jutted against the exciting admixture of fate and human deeds.
It is a highly literary work. The target audience is all those who love real humanism devoid of all misinterpretations and miscalculations.
Chimp, Champ and Chops
These are the heart-felt songs which in fact have been my companions during the toughest phase in my life. Most of these have been written in the charming countryside of my native place at a small village in northern India. The poems try to capture the softest nuances of perceptible and imperceptible naturalities against the background of human trials and tribulations. The verses chime with an enamouring softness of the heart which sound Godsent against present time’s viciously self-obsessed noise. The poems are exceptionally laced with silent spiritual reflections over the comforting quietude and teasing tranquillity of the countryside. These simple swathes of aesthetics take the reader to a slow-paced world…far, far away from the ‘maddening crowd’!
The Wicked Googly
Mists on the Moon
Charles Dickens says the trifles make the sum of life. So don’t be too serious about anything in life. These are little tales of humour and humanity. Elegant, tender and meandering through common occurrences in the life of ordinary people, these tales convey the timeless principles of humanity. The stories carry delicately poignant messages. The characters possess winning humour and show the colours of friendship, love, affection and care. There are lessons on practical philosophy also. All in all, the work is meant to give the readers a pleasant escape from the harder side of life.
The Kashmiri Girl
Most of these poems were written during the turbulent twenties of my life. In the early twenties, one is pursued by the glorious uncertainties of life. It’s a slippery, exciting and critically opinionated path. Don’t worry, it’s just a surge of extra energy, nothing else. The stage is shaky and realities are yet to get a foothold. You trample a lot of turf like a young colt spraying legs in all directions and galloping just for the sheer causeless fun of it. Of course, there are consequences but they hold their miserable importance in the eyes of the elders only. To the youngsters they are just irritable speed-breakers on the thrilling path.
One’s hormonally buzzing self floats in a hazy mist of unripe, raw, juicy, sweet-sour tart of dreams and imaginations striking the moron mass of established norms. The hormonal-storms-fuelled beliefs, views, opinions and dreams create sparks and sometimes thunderstorms. Nothing wrong with that! That’s all part of our making. It’s a pretty noisy and shaky groundwork born of your ‘making’ that provides a bit of stability later in life. Ask anyone, most of us are very lenient and forgiving towards our youthful gallops even if these have given us many bruises after the hard falls. We wear them with pride like the symbols of our reaching the peak of the mountain.
Tossed by immaturity and the raw power of youth and age, one hits the extreme ends of emotional scale. It’s a massive range of most painful pangs of heart to the ecstatic most reverberations of spirit. It’s a churning of our existence pulled by totally different strings. The product is quite fatty and butter-laced. No wonder, poetry is the handmaiden of the youth. The sediments, the cuts, the corrosion, the erosion, the torrents all unleash a gushing stream of emotions and adventures that swirl past the hard-established conventions and taboos to create a niche for the self.
There is an entire emotional terrain from the bleakest to the brightest as a youthful soul tries to manage the precarious walk on the shaky rope of young age. The same was the case with yours truly. It was a far simpler world in the nineties of the last century and it seems a long time since then. But it’s never easy for the youth, be it any age or century. They have their own challenges, agonies, follies and ecstasies.
The sheer shakiness of life in youth propels a multitude of streamlets in one’s heart. There is a teasing pull between the head and the heart, wherein the latter most often wins the lots in its favour. The elders may disagree but young people have an entire parallel world, a world that challenges the mundane and boring and firmly etched norms and conventions. We may compromise later in life and settle for a far more contained and restrained life but all of us carry pining nostalgia for our youth because that is when we really challenged the chains that curtail our free flight. Our follies, which we committed during our youth, still stand better than all the rights of our later years. This is in celebration of youth and its tendency to throw us literally to hit against the ceiling. And the bumps, bruises and little scars that we get along the way never fail to bring a smile on our lips even in the grey years of our old age.
All That Woman Is
Dreams of a Common Man
Love defines the countless pathways to the cause of creation as Lord Byron points out with poetic precision: that love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.
Do you think fear, anger, hate, envy, jealousy, ego, lust and greed have their own standing? No. Just like darkness is simply an absence of light, all these tortuous tools that lynch our self are nothing but phantoms doing painful rounds in the absence of love. Like a tiny lamp puts out darkness simply by casting light, without fighting the dark, a simple ray of love, a symbol of our true self, chucks out the flimsy appendages of the unreal self.
There is definitely limit to everything in cosmos. But there is one exception: Love, prem as we say it in Hindi.
One need not fight fear, fury, hatred, jealousy, distrust, ego, lust and greed at various fronts to defeat them. They have a common root: burial of your loving self, your essential nature, under the peripheral dust of illusions and ignorance, making you identify with what is essentially not your real self. Remove the grime, allow the light of love to emanate from your soul, enter your behavioral self, and all around you see peace, harmony and balance.
The Bread of Stones
The Lust of Life
The Shadows of Love
The Spiked Coffin
It’s a beautiful world. If you are happy and joyful, this entire existence feels the same through you. If you exist on a plane of harmony and peace, you invite the entire cosmos to the same plane. When you smile, everything around you does the same. So be a joy-maker and see the beauty underlying everyone and everything around you.
Look out for beautiful souls around you. They are great in their simple ways. They are exceptional and unique even while they are part of the rutted routine. But they run this world and touch our lives in constructive ways that we hardly realise. As Charles Dickens says, ‘It’s not possible to know how far the influence of an amiable honest-hearted duty-going man flies out into the world; but it’s very possible to know how it has touched one’s self in going by…’
Through my stories, I try to positively touch the lives of my dear readers. These stories deal with common people who try to stand proud in front of their own conscience. The rest of the life’s tale naturally follows from this point. As Thoreau sums it up so beautifully: ‘Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.’
A Nobody’s Notebook
It’s the notebook of a small-time writer. No big efforts at super-heroism, no ironies of heart-breaks, no bombastic romance, no gooseflesh rippling drama, no thunder-stricken rigmarole of saving the planet from the aliens. It’s not about chafing thoughts, it’s all about the frolicking gaiety of common emotions in the life of common people.
Beyond the grinding millstone of bigger caprices, it’s about sublimated emotions. It creeps genteelly like a flowery vine. It’s just a fragile moment capturing the kernel of eternal truth in it like you see in a painting of beautiful hills, smatterings of snow on the slopes, chatty streams, green pastures and a sense of virginal peace to tow all these along. There are no chivalric, lionized doctrinaires delving into deep mysteries of human existence. It’s a gently flowing painting on a self-absorbed canvas. The human characters simply add to the soft shades of the softly evolving painting.
In this small world, I believe everyone is taking chiming steps to be a nice human being. Come, let’s all walk together for a greater collective good.