I am starting this blog to be able to write to my heart's content. I dont want to advertise this blog but I would want people to chance on it and give their comments. This is the first of many contradictions that will make up this blog

Location: India

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Endless Cycle

He followed his visitors as far as the door. When they had gone he went back into the study. He was silent. His face was towards the dark window and his back towards me. On the fringe of the silence his voice spoke; he did not turn his shoulders. He said:

“Another glass of tea, please, Hannah, and would you mind turning off the main light? When father asked us to give the child an old-fashioned name we ought to have deferred to his wishes. When I was ten I had a very bad fever. All night, night after night, Father sat up by my bedside. He kept putting fresh damp clothes on my forehead, and singing over and over again the only lullaby he knew. He sang out of tune and flat. The song went like this: Time to sleep, the day is gone, In the sea has set the sun. stars are shining in the sky. Lulla, lulla, lullaby.

“Have I ever told you, Hannah, that aunt Jenia used to try by every means she could to find a second wife for father? She rarely came to visit us without bringing some friend or acquaintance with her. Aging nurses, Polish immigrants, skinny divorcees. The women would begin by advancing on me, with hugs and kisses, boxes of sweets and cooing noises. Father used to pretend not to understand Aunt jenia’s intention. He was polite. He would start talking about the High Commissioner’s latest edicts, and such like.
“When I had the fever I had a very high temperature, and the perspiration poured out of me all night long. The bedclothes were soaked. Every two hours Father carefully changed the sheets. He took care not to move me roughly, but he always overdid the caution. I would wake up and cry. Before dawn Father would wash all the sheets in the bath, and then go out in the dark and hang them out to dry on the washline outside our building. The reason I didn’t want lemon in my tea was that the heartburn is very bad, Hannah. When the fever abated Father went out and bought me a checkers set at a discount from our next-door neighbor Globerman’s shop. He tried to lose every game we played. To make me happy he would groan and hold his head in his hands, and call me ‘little genius, little professor, little Grandpa Zalman.’ Once he told me the story of the Mendelssohn family, and jokingly compared himself to the middle Mendelssohn, who was the son of one great Mendelssohn and the father of another. He prophesied a great future for me. He made me cup after cup of warm milk and honey, without the skin. If I was stubborn and refused to drink, he resorted to temptations and bribes. He would flatter my common sense. That was how I recovered. If you wouldn’t mind, Hannah, could you bring me my pipe? No, not that one, the English one. The smallest one. Yes, that’s it. Thank you. I recovered and father caught the fever from me and was very ill. He lay for three weeks in the hospital where Aunt Jenia worked. Aunt Leah volunteered to look after me while he was ill. After two months they told me that he had only escaped death by good luck or a miracle. Father himself joked about it a lot. He quoted a proverb which says that great men die young, and he said that fortunately for him he was only a very ordinary man. I swore before the picture of Herzl in the living room that if Father died suddenly I would find some way of dying too, instead of going to an orphanage or to Aunt Leah. Next week, Hannah, we’ll buy Yair an electric train. A big one. Like the one he saw in the window of Freimann and Bein’s shoestore in Jaffa road. Yair is very fond of mechanical things. I’ll give him the alarm clock which doesn’t work. I’ll teach him to take it to pieces and put it together again. Maybe Yair will grow up to be an engineer. Have you noticed how the boy is fascinated by motors and springs and machines? Have you ever heard of a child of four and a half who can understand a general explanation of how a radio works? I’ve never thought of myself as outstandingly brilliant. You know that. I’m not a genius or whatever my father supposed or said he supposed. I’m nothing special, Hannah, but you must try as hard as you can to love Yair. It would be better for you, too, if you do….No, I’m not suggesting that you neglect the child. Nonsense. But I have the feeling that you’re not wild about him. One’s got to be wild, Hannah. Sometimes, one even has to lose all sense of proportion. What I am trying to say is, I’d like you to start…I don’t know quite how to explain this sort of sentiment. Lets forget it. Once, years ago, you and I were sitting in some café, and I looked at you and I looked at myself and I said to myself, I’m not cut out to be a dream-prince or a knight on horseback, as they say. You’re pretty. Did I tell you what Father said to me last week in Holon? He said that you seemed to him to be a poetess even though you don’t write poems. Look, Hannah, I don’t know why I am telling you all this now. You’re not saying anything. One of us is always listening and not saying anything. Why did I tell you all that just now? Certainly not to offend you or hurt you. Look, we shouldn’t have insisted on the name Yair. After all, the name wouldn’t have affected our regard for the child. And we trampled on a very delicate sentiment. One day, Hannah, I’ll have to ask you why you chose me out of all the interesting men you must have met. But now it’s late and I’m talking too much and probably surprising you. Will you start getting the beds ready, Hannah? I’ll come and help you in a moment. Lets go to sleep Hannah. Father is dead. I’m a father myself. All this…all these arrangements suddenly seem like some idiotic children’s game. I remember we used to play once, at the edge of our housing project, on an empty site near where the sands began; we stood in a long line and the first one threw the ball and ran to the end of the line until the first became the last and the last became the first, over and over again. I cant remember what the point of the game was. I cant remember how you won the game. I cant even remember if there were any rules or if there was any method in the madness. You’ve left the light on in the kitchen.”

From 'My Micheal' by Amos Oz
(I loved this piece because of the way Oz conveys so subtly the message ' The more things change, the more they remain the same'. And of course, his beautiful prose.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another short story - Part 1

Deepa looks accusingly at her silver MotoRazr lying near the microwave.

She is cutting translucent skinned potatoes into small, symmetric pieces. Unevenness makes her uncomfortable. For her, cutting vegetables into right-sized pieces is the essential of good cooking. So, she does it herself before Rohit comes home.

She has experienced Rohit’s well intentioned help. He comes in unexpectedly, swinging his racket, his tennis whites spotless. It is these periods of activity that she is wary of. He won’t listen pretending that her irritation is invisible. He makes her sit on the sofa in front of the television and forbid her from helping him. He does it with a mock-serious expression, as if all this is an elaborate joke he has thought up while playing the last set with Mr. Marshall. And he proceeds to mangle the vegetables, leaving her with a loss of appetite.

Deepa had enjoyed these displays initially, when she had joined him in his condominium, a ‘jog-distance’ (as he put it) away from the tennis club he worked at – ‘The Marshall’s school of Tennis’ with ‘Special care for beginners’. She had found out that he was a tennis coach after marrying and coming to America.

Everything leading to their marriage had happened in a blurred rush. Rohit had come to her house with his parents. He was wearing a green Polo T-shirt, khaki trousers and brown Reebok sneakers. The neatly trimmed, side parted hairstyle and his frank, approvingly long look towards her had made up her mind. Not that her opposition would have made much difference against that heavy, gold-covered word which had been floating in the house for the past week in anticipation of this visit.
He had talked to her in English and she had noticed how he strained to hear her replies – contemplating, chewing and finally digesting her accent. She stayed at home for 7 more days before she got married and boarded her first flight.

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On the way up, as we passed the place on the staircase where I had slipped earlier, Michael took hold of my sleeve once again. As if there was a danger of slipping again on that particular step. Through the blue wool, I could feel every one of his five fingers. He coughed drily and I looked at him. He caught me looking at him, and his face reddened. Even his ears turned red. The rain beat at the windows.
“What a downpour,” Michael said.
“Yes, a downpour,” I agreed enthusiastically, as if I had suddenly discovered that we were related.
Michael hesitated. Then he added:
“I saw the mist early this morning and there was a strong wind blowing.”
“In my Jerusalem, winter is winter,” I replied gaily, stressing “my Jerusalem
” because I wanted to remind him of his opening words. I wanted him to go on talking, but he could not think of a reply; he is not a witty man. So he smiled again. On a rainy day in Jerusalem in Terra Sancta college on the stairs between the first floor and the second floor. I have not forgotten.

He stopped reading and went out to the balcony. He lighted a cigarette, watching the smoke spiral into the cool night air.
He felt elated, alive, needing to talk to her.
He dialed her number, willing her to pick the call, waiting.

Her sleepy voice floated across their separation, making him smile.
He did not talk to her about what he had just read.
He sang, songs that he made up as he talked, picturising her face under the thin sheet, her face smiling, like he remembered.
He talked, not wanting her to reply.
Of summer, of the drive back home, of the lone bee that had droned into his apartment room.
He talked.
Without expectation, wanting the spell to last.
He talked till the words dried up, leaving his elation behind.
Happily, he hung up, her rhythmic breathing in his ears, knowing, that she had slept, a long time back.

(The italicised portion is an excerpt from 'My Michael' by Amos Oz)


Saturday, May 12, 2007


Rediff…..Cricinfo…..NY times……blogs
NY times…blogs….Cricinfo….rediff
Multiple combinations in browsing can only help so much.
I have nothing to say. Nothing to write.


I hate facades but I take part in them.
I don’t know what I want but I pretend.
I convince myself that life is short but I still worry.
I know they are precious but I still hurt them.
I make goals too high to be reached.
I will die, unsatisfied.

I hate being honest.
(I love the letter I) too much.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Big Question

Doesn’t everyone pray with a face, an image in mind?
Isn’t that face the ‘God’ in the devotee’s mind?
As real, as finite, as tangible as every member of the devotees’ household…

If so, where do all these Gods reside?
Definitely not on the earth because then someone, somewhere should have met somebody.
But no one has.
So, they all have to belong to a dimension unknown to humans.

Are there palatial bungalows there, one for each religion?

Hindu ghar, Christian vatika, Islam kutir, Sikh house?
So, is the Hindu ghar the biggest having to accommodate the legion of Hindu Gods?
Does Vishnu have a better room than Brahma’s?
Are all the different religions housed on the same road of this celestial neighborhood?
Does Jesus talk to Krishna or spend the evening discussing the day’s events with Allah?
Or are they all so busy keeping track of prayers by ardent devotees that they find no time to socialize?
And what about all the minor, niche Gods and Godesses?
The visa Ganapathys, the passport Murugans, the area specific deities of every religion?
Do they occupy the basement because they are not important enough?
Is it ‘ungodly’ to imagine a caste system among Gods?

Or should I believe in the thought that there is only one God and that one God is called by different names by different people?
If that is so, why does every religion so clearly specify the name by which ‘it’s’ God is to be addressed?
Does it mean that all religions are flawed at their basic foundations?

Is all that I have written so far absurd from every true believer’s point of view?
Or is it only as absurd as truly believing that there is some unidentified, unproven, unseen force somewhere that is actually capable of listening to every plea that comes out of all human beings on this planet, tracking those pleas and acting on it?

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