Fish

Fish

“We’re all like fish, you know”

Dhananjay’s legs dangled down from the dam, water rushing beneath his feet in white frothy rage.
The dam was one of his favourite haunts since his school days. He would pick up Suresh from his house and they both would take turns cycling through the bumpy road as the other one sat on the front bar.

They used to come here for the freshly fried river fish, forgetting the tiredness of school hours as their aching
calves pushed on for one last stretch of cycling.

To Dhananjay and Suresh, the dam was worth the cramped up leg muscles.
And now here they were, middle-aged men who still hadn’t missed a beat from their childhood bonhomie.

It wasn’t just fried fish nowadays,Dhananjay brought the glasses and Suresh had the liquor.

They found solace with a glass and a ciggie in each hand. The weekly visit to the dam gave them bigger fish to
fry.

“We’re all like fish, you know”

Said Dhananjay as he ashed his cigarette into the rushing water below. Suresh was no further behind, always
ready with a sarcastic comment.

“We’re always drinking till our ears leak and flopping around when on land, is that why?”

“Ever seen a goldfish?… The ones living in the fancy bowls”

Dhananjay was immune to sarcasm. His total lack of humour wasn’t because of the alcohol. He treated life as
one big staring contest even when sober.

“Yeah what about them?”

“How would the world look like to them.What runs through their minds when it rains food once every two
hours, what is the level of understanding they have of this world?”

“Looks like I’ll have to do the driving tonight”

Suresh was not into conversations about goldfishes. But he knew there was no stopping Dhananjay at this point.
The floodgates were opened. Sitting back and listening was the only thing he could do.

“Let’s just say a goldfish is not aware of the fact that there is a bigger world than the tank it lives in.Whatever it
understands is confined to that small tank. It has no idea of how life works, and it associates every single
positive or negative act in its life to fate or..”

“God”

Suresh sat straight, the conversation was taking shape into something comprehensible.But comprehensible is
not always coherent, thus came out the question

“But if the goldfish is us..and by what you say, we’re all seeing and feeling things just because someone bigger
than us makes us to, doesn’t it make that person God? And what would be the purpose behind all this?”

He swept his hand across the surroundings, cigarette in hand as if implying the dam, the water and all the
people in them were somehow meant to be purposeful creations by God himself.

“There is no purpose! Don’t you see!”

Whatever general morbidity that was a part of Dhananjay, was lost in the budding excitement of this
conversation.
“Why would you raise a goldfish or a colony of ants for that matter… And give it a purpose? Would you not
give it a free hand instead of.. somehow trying to give it a convoluted clusterfuck to find it’s life in?!’

Suresh had no choice but to cut him off, Dhan was never one to swear on instinct.
“Okay! Okay man, let’s dumb it down a bit.What are you trying to tell me? What has the goldfish to do with
anything?”

“Okay let me simplify things”
“The God we speak of has no reason to bring in any rules. There is no holy scripture. There is no instruction
manual to our birth.We have an open canvas and we have the right to live…”
“Uhh… Dhan..”

Suresh cut him off again, but this time, he had a clear reason.

The conversation had continued till late night, and the cops had begun to clear the dam of night crawlers and
drunkards. And since they both were holding their own share of alcohol, Suresh and Dhananjay naturally
dropped their bottles and cigarettes upon the sight of the police constable and began to walk inconspiciously
towards the their bikes, hoping the law doesn’t sniff out their dose of booze.

“Okay.. tell it to me in short”
Suresh whispered under his breath as they walked past the police officer standing menacingly with his lathi.

“Tell you what?”

“Tell me what you meant by all this?”

“What I meant was, that there are no rules!”

“Then why are we afraid of the policeman?”

“Because he doesn’t know about the goldfish, and also because we’re about to drink and drive”

Easy God

Clasped handsIt is that time. You do not know him/her. Actually you don’t even know the language proper. You are not judged if you do not use the respectful plural for singular, when you address the elders. The karma points are not taken seriously, at least by the people around you. At this point you would have already been introduced to him/her. Then you are taken to school.

Now at this age (today), when you read random articles like this one, you might (or, I apologize and make myself clear inside these holy brackets ‘You choose not to’) realize this introduction was very peculiar than the other introductions you ever had. Ranging from people, the idea of mermaids, to complex school of thoughts that make you blink twice, really hard, or serious (worse) buy a book.

This one was different because you don’t know how you got acquainted. It was a simple process. That much you know. You were asked to believe, and you did. There was not any serious fight, because there was no harm. Believing anything never hurt, except some beliefs make legs liquid in the dark. So you might have nodded when people like parents, people who are the sole reason you can walk, talk, convey or comprehend, ask you to do such a simple thing.

Nod, ‘yes’, palms together closed eyes, knees on floor and bent-back, clasped hand and sharp glare, folded hands and heads up, the holy words which subtitles read out as  indistinctive murmur, daily bath, good deeds, indulgence on threads and people with more threads, company of books that won’t fetch marks but points, belief that all this will get one more close to the old acquaintance, the God(s).

Now, we can say we believe in god, at this point. He/she with no doubt is the most powerful entity ever known. No matter what word you use to praise or describe with awe, there will be people who will tap your shoulders to correct you with a better word. Some less powerful might pop bullets inside your skull, then you will know the right word.

The sad part is, god like Gandhi crosses a phase in every individual’s life. Gandhi? You like him, you think you are big you don’t like him, then you become really big to like him again, or you stay the same (disliking or/and not so big). Anyway he was an influential person, and still is. So is god in this matter, influencer, supporter and sometimes a resort. But he/she suffers a similar but only rougher phase in people’s lives. His/her very existence is suddenly doubted. You see things happen and you had attributed it to god, now you look back and remove god from the equation, because you have more time and no one calls you to play gully cricket. The simulation gears go work and you see the thing still happen just fine without god in it. You repeat it for several instances and you see things work anyway, without the god factor. God has not even been the sugar that you can manage without in a coffee, he/she was the bird you missed to see which flew as you sipped your coffee. The bird that did not even turn coffee into the tea you like. And of course no water to wine, so you begin to doubt, but then again you don’t have the time to think long.

Then phase two of the original phase. Reading now can never be considered time waste. You read about evolution. Survival of the fittest. Now you do the fitting. You fit the fact that god does everything that no one else did by accident or by purpose. So evolution becomes god’s act. Some deny, but that is what happened you argue. Animals died because they were not taller, killed and preyed upon for not being the right colour, starved to death because they shouted different. Natural selection the book calls it. You say nature is god, and you think one should hate god for this. You still love nature, grass and stars. So now denied existence in your heart and then got accused, god waits (you think).

The aftermath. It is exam, game, or a loved one in hospital. The almost 18 to 20 year old practice tries to drive you to a place of worship or tries to make you do the single sided conversation. It is dilemma time, you and your conscience have immense ego. So you can neither deny nor accept god now. You may pay for the taxi that people take to temple you decide. Later this becomes routine. Denial, doubt, dilemma, eat, not pray and love. Terrible cycle to deal with, and yet you choose this.

Now what follows are not facts and do not employ fact checkers to confirm or deny. Call it preaching if you want to be hard on me. Or just read. Just being the keyword here.

God was created to solve issues and to attribute the unknown to something. We still follow the same, we call god particle by the name ‘God particle’ because it is not understood yet. What is not understood is god. It is not in school text books. When you cannot define something in a textbook it becomes god. God is contextual. A dead man’s god is not a living man’s god. A child’s god is not the same as an old woman’s. If something cannot be done then it is left for god. Not for solving always, but sometimes for easy closure. Most people want good to happen when things are at the worst, when life is at the rock bottom. And many try to contact god wishing good to happen. So god is something that people relate with so much good and positivity. And by people, we are counting in billions.

I do not find it easy to quote Dawkins or Indian exports. So I quote from the subtitles of one of the best movies on earth ‘Om Shanthi Om’

If you want something from the bottom of your heart, then the whole universe conspires to get it to you.

So if you want something, just want it. Not need, yearn or ask, just want it. It might sound bad English but it should work. Mind you, Shahrukh Khan is the lead actor of the movie ‘Om Shanthi Om’ and the italics is his dialogue in the movie. But it is difficult to believe, and more difficult to keep believing that you will get what you want. It is tiresome to keep ‘wanting’ something when you doubt the result.

This is when god comes into play. Many ask god for it. Now you know for a fact that god is a belief of billions wanting things to be alright and they are always associating god with good. Don’t do complex maths, let me make it easy for you. It is just a big mountain of positivity. God after this realization, or acceptance will seem larger than life, interesting and trustworthy. The problem now boils down to just asking and waiting, because now a bigger force is working. It is convenient and it is free.

Whatever a person wants, is sent as something like a cellphone signal into the universe. One needs to keep letting the universe know that he/she still wants it and hence, help the universe help oneself. With god this process becomes easy. All they do is get a token rather than carry the heaviness around.

So this is why people choose to believe. And I believe that they need not be converted to a non-believer, or convinced that god does not exist. Let them believe, if you find it convenient you do too. The thought is simple, gives relief, and takes out steam off the brain and heart.

Going to a place of worship is also something similar. The non-science is also very relatable. Imagine you are going to an important place, filled with important people, and you need to present yourself the best. Will you take the short route of high traffic, garbage in narrow lanes, and urinating Indians, or will you take the cleaner longer road where you have a high chance of a person greeting you a nice day? Let us assume you have a lot of time to get there. Yes, you will take the longer route. Convenient and the waver maybe good looking. You will take the loud laughing room than the weird scorning room with an air conditioner. So people visit places of worship because no one makes them uncomfortable there and no one is. On top of that, it is a place filled with similar people (not the religion, the less judging believers. Less judging at least in this context.)

The objective is simple, mine. Let people be what they are unless they harm others. No one is stupid, don’t look at anyone that way because you have a big library or an E book reader with earphones. Maybe gently nudge when some think that god asked them to kill a lot, or when they think there was a calling to produce more babies despite the buses and trains overflowing, and economy bad, because they think god asked them to create more of what follows their way of living. More than that, your interfering kind heart will seem a big ugly nose.

Many do better after the belief phase. Works well in sports and money, but most scientist and writers still make a good living bashing the big man/lady. Just saying. And I am sorry if the words seemed preaching, never meant to.

‘He/she’ because my sister is a feminist, and I respect and fear Amir Khan. I really can tolerate a male god actually.

Last Words

Holding hands

My wife’s last words may not be for me. She might be cursing her killer. She might be screaming through her fall, and the last distinguishable words could have been It is 5.30, smiling. An illness, if it decides to take her, and it gets to her head too, the words could be incoherent and meaningless. It could be a shriek, There is a truck. In her sleep she might go as she wishes, and the last words forgotten. If death decides to do it in the hospital with a person holding her hands, she will be talking to her mother.

The mother might not even be in the hospital. I might be the messenger, holding hands.

***

My wife is alive and healthy and loving. I don’t mind she loving her mother more than me.

Last word directed towards me, I don’t consider them trophies. The old man, my neighbour, his were “Oh, you have come too” and he smiled, and he died. I won envying relatives who surrounded the death-bed. To me it was not special. I would have graciously, let the son take my position when the smiling dad of his died. Yes, I liked it, but it was not a life event for me. It made (makes) no difference if people speak to me or not, as they die. I never believe in ghosts.

My father hence had no obligation when I was holding his hands. Not that I have told him, but he knows me well. Father he is, treated like one too. Yet, the healthy built, fragile gentleman tried hard to focus on me. He gave up. He was forced to settle on just looking in my direction.

“Trust god always” his eyes did focus as he finished. Took too much of his breath. All of it.

Last words always do that.

***

It is today. I am in the green kurta that my wife got me. My son is walking slow, backwards, looking up the hole in the thatched roof, through which the pillar shoots up. He wants to see the top of the pillar with copper leaves, that my wife had described to him, moments earlier. He is wearing a green kurta. She got two. She told him that wishes come true when he catches those copper leaves sway in the air, making the copper bells in them toll.

Almost all the temples have these pillars. Pillars with copper leaves and bells. I never knew this significance, I still doubt it. I am not asking her if it was just a distraction to the bored kid. She wants to lean on my shoulder. This is a temple, so she is not leaning. I don’t like the reason. I cannot tolerate my son taking what my wife just said, serious. He is seven. I am not voicing my question, my dislike or my intolerance.

Today is four years after my father’s death.

I like the place, the peace that surrounds me, and the air that I breathe in. The air that I breathe out won’t disrupt peace.

After all she will lean on my shoulder in the cab home. We will change, and our family won’t be in this green uniform once we get home. It is beautiful how my son is walking backwards in little steps.

So I smile.

Opposable Thumbs, Not the Only Qualification

Monkey

A Prison For Your Spirituality

29th May. 2014.My birthday came by and I was taking in calls from all those people who remembered.

There was this certain well wisher who couldn’t make it to meet me in person as planned before, so naturally some time was spent discussing my birthday itinerary with said well wisher.

My birthday plans didn’t include the obvious early morning trip to a nearby temple, as I have never been a “Ummachi kaapathu” person before. But I was asked to visit god’s place at least this one time in my life, asked in a rather   firm way I must add.

So the resident god-house near my place of stay was an Aanjaneyar Temple in Mambalam,Chennai.

God was supposed to exist in every object of the universe and yet I had to go to Mambalam now to meet up with him. Completely acceptable logic to me .

So I went there to the monkey gods shrine, and since I didn’t know the standard procedure to take in the holiness of a place, I started looking for the prasadam stall.

After a few seconds of looking around, I found what I was looking for and found something else along with it too.

The temple boys had a monkey tied to the base of the prasadam table, maybe as a symbol of the deity they believe in. The monkey was suddenly the recipient of my curiosity, and believe me when I say I have unbound curiosity.

The monkey didn’t mind me at all, staring at me just as it had stared blankly at the countless visitors before me. There was a simple hemp rope attached to it’s right leg and the weight of the table above the rope inhibited my new friend’s movement.

I considered the monkey to be my newly met friend now, and tying the legs of my friends doesn’t sit well with me at all. So I removed the rope from it’s vestiges and both my friend and my curiosity were unbound now at the same time.

The table was not weighing down on him, the rope around it’s leg was now a useless piece and he could go anywhere he wanted to in all of west Mambalam.

Yet the monkey did not move.

The stare which greeted me when I first met him, was still painted across his face. He had no wish to be wild and free just like he was meant to be. Pretty content with scraps of food offered by god, he didn’t care to return to his normal monkey mindset.I realized that, according to him I was just an annoying brat on his birthday adventure.

That my people, is a narrative that fits even us greater simians. There are too many of us with beautiful minds in this world, only to have the beauty curtailed by the dogma of religious beliefs.

Religion is the thing standing between us and God. Isn’t that such a funny statement to make?

Religion, as opposed to it’s initial purpose of acting as the ladder to reach the almighty, has now become the mountain one needs to climb to overcome the burdens acting on one’s individuality.

The rope around your leg is growing tighter, and you are becoming less aware of your own capabilities.

It’s time to answer a small question. So, what type of monkey do you want to be?