Why I won’t mind if and when a terrorist kills me

I guess the heading of this post is as much friendly and as much attention grabbing as any other media outlet’s news heading these days. Now that that’s covered read on, if you haven’t already decided to troll me. You could still do that after reading no?

Woke up today, rather late-ish compared to my recent pre-sunrise awakenings. Morning pages revealed yet another insight into something that I needed to work on.  And just when I thought I was pretty satisfied with the insight, the news hit me. That Paris was attacked, just like Mumbai not too long ago – with coordinated terrorists brandishing guns and weapons and killing anyone randomly. BBC was its usually stoic self, CNN had too many headlines – in fact it seems to be enjoying the job a bit too much for my convenience. President of France declared a ‘state emergency’. A twitter hashtag had already appeared. #PrayForParis. I shared it too. What could anyone do except pray, especially when the shoot’s still going on even as I write this one from a safe distance of thousands of miles!

This reminded me of my awareness of terrorism via the 9/11 attacks. Even though it had no direct connection to me, the visuals of falling WTC towers brought tears to my eyes. Why tears? I could only find the answer much later – I was suddenly aware as to how silly and meaningless life can be – for those who killed, for those who were killed, for those who were related to both, for those who were related to none but tortured in the name of pre-emptive action, and for people like me whose world view changed forever suddenly. And years later as I hear of wars being fought, democracies established, people trolled for speaking out, cows made gods vehicles, men made scapegoats, women made fashion or sex or empowerment symbols, my world view gets more concrete. That somewhere our idea of terrorism and what defines terrorist is all wrong. And I think we are all terrorists in our own might. That a terrorist chooses to kill is just he/she explicitly expressing himself, while we are all terrorists for wanting to face terrorists’ reactions with more merciless reactions. Let me explain, though I think even my friends will misunderstand me for saying this:

It must be Carl Jung who said – ‘Only that which can destroy itself is truly alive’. Sad but it seems to be the truth. That as a civilization, we’ve created terrorists – probably unconsciously with our completely fear-conditioned minds – is proof enough. And even though it is extremely wrong time to say, I will never blame a terrorist if he kills me, for I know somewhere in my urge to ‘buy things’ and ‘stay in competition’ I may have affected his life so sadly that he found only one way to react. This doesn’t however mean we must pardon any terrorist, I only mean to say that we need to face the fact that we are as much a terrorist by our own limitations or inability to look into the eyes of another man/woman and to seek understanding as to why he/ she chose to kill. The very fact that we all shout for a caught criminal’s hanging, irrespective of his reasons, is probably proof enough. Perhaps some reasons are better some not, but that we haven’t cracked the code which enables living for all kinds is something that we as a civilization must ponder upon. (Or do we think hanging is one aspect of the code? My god that makes us even dangerous than terrorists).

And in the mean time, when my near and dear ones, including perhaps me, will be attacked and killed mercilessly someday, how do I respond?  I have no answer. Do I have a solution to stop this problem: No. But who said I was alive anyway. I only live in my myth of freedom and independence. In fact even this freedom is only as much as the media and conditioning seems to tell me I have. I am born because my parents wanted me (seriously they did, I mean this exact me or some other me?); I go to school because education is good (despite the current situation of the world that this very education created); I marry after comparing research notes on religion or education or economical status (I guess people really wish they were born in those countries in which parents help in sharing these notes); I work my way up through all the office and start up politics; if I succeed I buy estates, homes, furniture, fashion and what not irrespective of their use and if I don’t succeed I blame everyone else; and in the mean time I act like I care – for vegetarianism even though I drink cow or buffalo milk, buy leather wallets and shoes, collect silk and woolen wear and what not; (and even for cows – how dare they eat cows – my friends just eat chicken, mutton, lamb, venison, crabs, fish etc; and for my revered laddus – how dare ‘they’ reject my laddu when I offer it to them;) for my family which I have no reason why I created it; for a society which I often truly believe is full of morons; for a country that seems to be giving me my rights though secretly its rulers, those for whom I hypnotized myself to vote for, take the very rights away from my hands everyday, and then…and then I die.

But my death was already done – when in the coincidental moments of clarity I could have acted more courageously, unconditioned myself and found meaning and joy in little things I did – but alas, I was too busy for all of it. But please don’t blame me for this, I was busy making someone else responsible for all the things that I didn’t have in my life, just like a terrorist does. I blame the TV for the anger it creates in me; I blame the hospitals for the health issues it can’t solve; I blame the cinema for rapes (though I’m up for every chance that I can get with women); I blame the politicians for corruption (even though I won’t mind getting away without a traffic challan with minimal tea-biscuit charges). And so instead of some bacteria / virus / cancer inside me killing me, why should it be any more tragic and criminal when the cancer of this civilization kills me. In fact I can argue with gods, saying probably I could have controlled virus in me, but how can I control cancer in society! Probably I will blame them and I will blame god too.

Because they, the ones I call terrorists, were bestowed with the ability and had the choice to do things differently; because like me they were humans who could change their world view? Seriously, then what am I doing with my ability to find that change in me? If I’m not up for that change – what does that make me then? Can I be someone who accepts responsibility with all that is extraordinarily wrong with this world? May be there in lies my clue to the answer as to how I can resolve this issue . In the mean time, I will live with this fear, make peace with it until I find the answer. What if I’m killed in the mean while? I don’t know. Why should I care about my life, when even terrorists, the so called scum of our society, don’t seem to care about it. And when did I actually care about it – except when I had to troll or spit venom on someone who questioned my conditioning. And by the way didn’t I already mention this, I was dead anyway. And that’s why I won’t mind being killed by a terrorist. May be I will even tell a sorry to him for making him kill me, as I die dramatically as they show in movies. But I won’t think of what I can do to change now.

I’m sure I will find time to think of it another life time. Who was it said who said “We meet ourselves time and time again, in a thousand disguises on the path of life?” You see am leaving the answer to the mercy of time, because my understanding of time is wrong too – else why would time move fast when I’m enjoying life, and why it stands still when a terrorist with a gun attacks me, as I wait… imagining what news channel will my loved ones watch after I’m dead.  Perhaps as a soul (I mean if I ever really had one), I will realize that real-like framing of time (also like in movies) where in one frame I see all politicians, media people, and the so called real terrorists think – “now that we have their attention, lets spin this further for our benefit” and my loved ones agreeing with them – consciously or otherwise.

Disclaimer (wish I could write this piece without this): Perhaps this is a very wrong time to write such a post. But it is this very situation that prompted to think of writing this and no not when someone killed someone else some time ago…but today. Please note that this is not to offend anyone…dead or alive or their relatives, but to make all who have the ability to read and comprehend this fully to ponder on the monstrous meaninglessness of life and the great misconception in our minds that we all are innocent bystanders who get shot for no reason. I write with the belief that we all are responsible for the current fearful, sad and angry state of our lives and probably we will start finding road to the answers when we acknowledge this.

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The Three Brahmins!

 I was born in February (or so I have been told). And since about 10 years now, Februarys are extremely tough for me. The kind of introspection that they push me into… with the comparison of what I planned and imagined to achieve and haven’t yet makes me go crazy. (Without wanting to be sounding sexist in Februarys I could be worse than a girl on PMS… seriously). Right now I think I have found a way of dealing with it. I would post here, few works of mine – some old, some new, but not necessarily known to all of my friends or family members etc. Some are just random thoughts and some would be short stories (if I can find them) I had written in the past. The idea is not to correct / edit anything except for a few typos; instead I have to let these thoughts out (with a hope that they might reach people who care about them).

(This piece I wrote 2-3 years ago.)

It was around 11.00 am in the morning and it wasn’t the time to sleep. But after getting a few chores done early in the morning I had given into some sleep on the floor just like that.

And then they came – the Three Brahmins.

I call them Brahmins because I have no other name. From their distinct pilaka on their shaved heads, the sacred janjamu going along from their left shoulder to the right waist, and the dhoti with silk border – what else do you call them!

The moment I saw them, I knew I was going to give them money, I just had to know WHY!  The very fact that I don’t believe in giving alms and yet why I sometimes give away money is a contradiction I have long ceased to ponder upon.

They asked me to come out of the gadapa (threshold) or let them in. I asked them inside. They asked me if I belonged to the Reddy caste. I waited a second. I didn’t know I would.

***

12-13 years ago, I had then just come to Hyderabad, looking for a nice place to settle down in. Owners of places who were ready to let out their places would ask me my caste, and the moment I replied Madiga, some would raise their eyebrows, some would say they are not ready to let out their homes for me despite the fact that I am a vegetarian (and didn’t even booze until much later!) I vaguely remember a professor of Physics telling me that his house was let out only for brahmins and vysyas!

My mom taught me a trick. To tell them a different caste name – “what’s the big deal” she would ask as long as I could get a place! I remember my mom not trying to hide her caste with people, but for her son, she was ready to give up her ideals!

***

Few years ago, my then girlfriend had asked her father to allow me to talk to him so that I could request him to permit us to get married. He knew my caste, and associated a funny swear word with it. My girl friend is now my wife anyways. It is only recently that my father in law and I have begun talking to each other. Now they are looking for a guy for their second daughter, with some relaxed caste requirements. The guy has to be a Hindu though.

***

The three Brahmins asked me my caste. I waited a second. I didn’t know I would.

I always thought that I would say the answer to such a question easily and would laugh at people who were afraid to say out the name of the caste they belong to. But at that moment I gave in.

I had a feeling deep in my guts that the moment I told them I belonged to a pretty lower caste, they would run away, and here I was a man trying to give alms eh! I managed to skip the topic. I asked them what they needed. They persisted. I skipped it again even more persistently.

It was the oldest Brahmins daughter’s wedding. I gave them 51/- (now the hell do I add ONE to the FIFTY… hello I am supposed to be rationale, scientific, etc.) They needed another 50! I lied to them that I had given them whatever I had in my purse.

They asked my gothram – which I don’t remember. I didn’t lie this time. They stared at me.

They inquired if I was studying. I told them I work. They blessed me in Sanskrit. The moment I heard the word “Kalyanam”, I told them I was married anyway. The next words they used were Putra Poutri . I told them I am not interested in kids right now! (Hello… why did I tell them… wasn’t it my problem!) They said it was all in God’s Hands! And then they left. I was glad and sad.

***

As they left, I remembered my other three friends.

One, a friend from the childhood, and in whose home I reside now, sometimes not even caring to pay the rent. He just won’t ask! (He doesn’t mention that money till now yet, and I don’t have any plans to return it to him in case he is reading!)

Another, probably most educated amongst my friends and a doctor, has been a thorough supporter, no matter what I do. He just trusts me completely!

The other one, used to ensure that I don’t fall in his grandfather’s eyes, lest I will have to face a question on my caste, and would ensure that I ended up at their home every Thursday night, so that we could savor his mother’s dinner!

All three were/are Brahmins, by caste!

There is no relation to the three Brahmins I mentioned earlier, and my three Brahmin friends, and there is no aim that I intend to achieve or ponder upon through this piece. But by the end of today’s incident, I felt a deep sense of gratitude to my friends – whether it comes from my deep insecurity of being in a position where I have to be helped by upper caste to survive, which I never knew I had or from my belief in Rhond Byrne’s The Secret, I don’t want to know.

Otherwise I will have to try and raise my circle of influence to change

– the system which sees that people born in certain race need the state’s help.

– a powerful woman who thinks that the only way to raise attention towards lower caste’s problem is by spending crores of money on her statues among those of others

– all the mindsets that have degrees, phds and yet have demands of marrying people from the same caste

That’s difficult isn’t it? To change and to bring change! So I won’t think about it.

***

A Love Story That Doesn’t Include My Wife!

Of course such a title is an attention grabber isn’t it?

Not long ago, part of my job included that I see the earliest possible shows of all the Telugu films that have been released or were ready for release. And once such a show was done, I would be the first person to rush out of the theater –  not necessarily because most Telugu movies deserved running away from the theater, but also because I just like to get into the light as soon as possible, and if possible try and skip the crowds too! Most often I would use such an occasion to stand outside as people slowly came out of the theater discussing what they liked (more often it would be what they didn’t like – deservedly so – it’s Telugu movies!)

One such movie was Villain (a dubbed version of Tamil Raavanan). While for many others it was a Mani Ratnam film, for me it was the rare combination of Santosh Sivan – Mani Ratnam – A.R.Rahman, but otherwise the name of A.R.Rahman would generally be enough! While I sat watching the movie, sometimes fully attentive and most often bored, I was fully into Rahman’s score. Fortunately for me the climax of the film caught my attention. Just when the film ended I, being I, was ready for my Olympic sprint to the exit, but then Rahman caught me off guard with his song Egiripo (Jaa Re Udjaa Re from Hindi Raavan).

I was so amazed by the beauty of the film ending and of course the song – I didn’t move an inch off my seat. The song was slow, and the end titles rolled even slowly. When everyone else left and I was left alone in the theater, I started walking towards the exit, very slowly. I was giving myself maximum chance to listen to the full song, which wasn’t released with the general audio of the film.

As I found myself all seriously smiling in myself with Rahman’s beautifully egoistic rendition of his own tune, I sensed a figure moving towards me. It was a girl. Like me she too didn’t notice another person’s presence until I noticed her. She didn’t say a thing and I, being I, increased my speed of walking towards the exit, away from her, and stood at the exit door, to savor the song alone, until I could. When finally it was done, I gave a look towards this girl. She was twenty something, who on any other day would pass me by and wouldn’t even notice me, and viceversa. But for a moment there, if my memories aren’t pulling my legs, she gave me a half smile. Half because I was a stranger to her, and smile – not just as an expression of how the intensity of the song moved her but also as an understanding of how my face looked after having heard that song. Partly I also felt that the smile a way of fighting her tears, and partly an appreciation of the fact that we were the only two left in the theater until that song finished!

Now I being I, didn’t smile back and left the place almost hurriedly, even though for a moment I did allow myself a moment of wonderment! Today I don’t even remember seeing her face clearly. I’ve never told this to my wife or may be I did, but that love story of that couple with Rahman’s background score ended there, in that moment.

For reasons unknown to me, I keep telling my friends that ‘love is never between two people, but between a human and his-individual-self’, or sometimes that ‘love is just a moment of wonderment’! Most often they don’t get it, and infact I don’t it get it myself. I guess that’s what makes a love story interesting – a bit vague, a bit complex, a bit too simple and a bit too contradictory to all that is called the ‘norm’!

A Bizzare Accident

It has been almost a year since my wife has been driving a scooter on the roads of Hyderabad and almost same period since I have been telling her that every driver has a fall – asking her to be more careful. Finally today she fell off the bike. Nothing serious though, and we celebrated her bravado by watching Ishaqzaade. Now Ishaqzaade isn’t a great film, but it did made me think about having a smoke, after a very looooooong time.I resisted the temptation (pat pat). Almost immediately, I rushed to watch another film, only to meet with an accident. It is not a habit of mine to name an accident, but because it was the second accident of the day as far as my family was concerned, I decided to call this – Department.

Apparently a teenager named Ramgopal Varma had recently chanced upon something called Rogue film making. As he was ‘driving’ his story bus, he was so focused on rigging his camera to the steering, to the car, top, front, walls, chappals, even hands, armpits, nostrils, groins etc. of his fellow actors, so much that he lost direction! I also think that this accident had lot to do with his female entourage – Lakshmi Manchu, Madhu Shalini and that South American chic. The lady who was dubbing’ for Lakshmi Manchu, must have had tough time to match the latter’s accent – that could be the only explanation why Lakshmi looked, sounded, acted so terrible throughout this saga. The other girl Madhu Shalini had no idea if she had to look hot,or to deliver a ‘oh so mafioso philosophy’ again and again and again and again, while also playing Lady Macbeth of sorts! And the lady about whom RGV used to be all praise for – Nathalia – had gone all bust and butt, but God didn’t bless her with any rhythm whatsoever! Obviously, with such women around RGV must have had trouble focusing on his driving.

Also traveling in the bus was Rana. Even he, imitating his uncle Venkatesh from a Telugu film called Gharshana, couldn’t save RGV, even though the twosome somehow mastered the ability to see the blood of anyone who came in their way, with or without a gun, much like Balakrishna of Telugu Cinema! RGV’s weird angles showcasing Sanjay Dutt’s belly as much as the groins of all his other co-artists must have pissed off Mr.Dutt so much that he decided to stop showing any interest midway, managing only to wear a cap indoors! If that was not enough all those traveling in RGV’s bus were involved mouthing redundancies about ‘sahee’, ‘galat’, ‘system’ etc. etc that any meaningful sentence coming in between them would have jumped off the bus purely out of shame.

So after innumerable chases, gun fires, listening to music inspired by Bourne Identity, etc., RGV might have been soooo constipated that he decided to ‘release’, and then suddenly I find myself involved in this accident. The best part was inspite of being unconscious (yeah, as a result of the accident) I had dreamed of Amitabh Bachchan dressed like Lal Badshah with a special ghanti around his wrist, and also about Vijay Raaz dressed like Gandhi. I think I also saw Abhimanyu Singh in the dream, but am not sure… it was such an accident. Now all I can do is remember Quick Gun Murugan who in order to escape a girl’s advances says in his huge Telugu accent “…head ache hain“.

So still wondering what happened to the second film I went to watch (how clever you are) – I think I did manage to watch the film inspite of the accident and even with some amnesia here’s the interesting story – Two cops form an encounter team – blah blah blah – they have differences blah blah blah – comes Lord Krishnaesque politician – one cop dies, the other flies – blah blah blah. This film’s heroine Anjana Sukhani did try to act! Thank God! And phir bhee…head ache hain. Hmmph!!! Now the director of this particular film will soon have his Vodka and say, “who the EFF asked you to go watch my film?” May be I would tell him – “aaaaap alagh hai…“!

P.S.: I did notice that Rana’s younger brother was so excited about his brother’s involvement in this entire episode that he dozed off right beside me!