So Long, My Friend!

She closed the door of the car, looked at me and smiled. Her eyes reflected the depths of despair, the emotional turmoil simmering beneath. I wanted to reach out to her once more, to take her hand and reassure her. It would never be enough to fill the void, though!

As she walked down the road, a part of me walked out with her. It would be long before I see her again. I wish I could be with her, to be the shoulder to lean on. I wish I could drive her around one more time. I wish I could sit with her at the beach one more time. I wish I could hold her one more time. The wavy hair, the naughty smile, the bubbly laughter, the warmth of her hug. The moments stayed on with echoes of her emotion. She looked back before I could call out to her. A wave, and a smile. And she was gone.

The journey back was hard and lonely. Driving through the lanes and roads which we had travelled just an hour before. The frames played out everywhere. The actions, the words, the feelings, the music. They would forever be etched in memory. Those moments created soulful melodies I had never heard before. Interspersed with melancholy notes, a reminder of reality.

She was trying to balance her emotions all through. She came for me, to take time out for me. Though she was crushed within, her smile had cheered me. It was as much about her, as it was about me. The struggle to come to terms with the loss, the battle to fill the vacuum. I wanted to be of help, but she didn’t let me be. Or did she? Time would tell me someday, maybe.

An angel keeps watch over her, shining bright in the sky. Her guiding light and guardian.

The traffic around faded into oblivion, and the sounds receded into the background. Her smile, and the wave remained, along with the warmth and affection.

So long, my friend! Till next time!

Morning at Vellayani

We use the phrase ‘photo walks’ to denote the walks we do for the purpose of taking photographs. These days everyone can claim to be a photographer with high resolution, high definition cameras available in smartphones and aided by scores of apps that can tweak photographs. That makes us, who straddle backpacks with a DSLR and different lenses for different purposes, seem like an oddity. Having said that, there is no bias against anyone who exclusively shoots with their smartphones.

My friend Tom and I decided to drive over to Vellayani on the outskirts of Trivandrum city over the previous weekend. An early morning walk at Vellayani has a calming effect. Just outside the city limits, we have an area that comprises a lake, some irrigation canals, paddy fields and few vegetable farms. A typical Kerala countryside village so near to the hustle and bustle of the city. A walk along either side of the canal towards the lake is a welcome break from the hectic schedule of the week. It is not photography alone; there is an unspoken conversation with nature that makes this early morning photo walks at Vellayani a refreshing experience. An experience devoid of sophistication – not entirely though, we are carrying a load of sophisticated technology in our backpacks. A couple of hours away from smartphones, iPods, laptops, tablets, home theatres, instant messengers and the like that are now a permanent fixture in our lives.

When we set out for a photo walk, the obvious rule is to reach the destination before the sun is up. And many of my friends end up asking me ‘Why so early’? And I end up giving them a wry smile and saying ‘That’s the best part of it’, leaving a few of them still puzzled. We observe how the world comes to life. The day wakes up with the sun climbing out of bed in the east. To be witness to this cosmic spectacle is indeed the best part of it. And before we see the sun, we see the colours. If we are lucky enough, that is. Not every sunrise splashes colours over the place. We were lucky this day. And we were just in time to see the sun rise. The time just before sunrise, and the time just after sunset – bookmark them!

 

We usually commence our walk at Vellayani from Punchakkari. The place is reachable by bus also, as KSRTC plies on this route from East Fort to Punchakkari. That is where we embark on our morning walk alongside the canal and towards the periphery of the Vellayani Lake. As we parked our car near the small bridge, we could see a school bus and school kids wearing colourful shirts assemble along with a couple of teachers. The kids were carrying small notepads and pencils; a few had water bottles too. We noted that the teachers were having a camera and a pair of binoculars in hand. It seemed really heartening that the teachers decided to show the beauty of nature to kids rather than confine them to classrooms. It was a really happy feeling to start the walk with. We smile at them, the cameras inviting curious looks, and walk past onto the unpaved road along the canal. The left side of the canal is mostly paddy fields, and with small narrow brooks running across the fields at few places. The right side is mostly used for cultivation of vegetables and plantain.

 

The green fields on one side, the canal on the other, and the colours just before sunrise – it felt really good to breathe in the cool air along with the colours and sights. And sounds too! The chirping of birds, dogs, buffalos, ducks, kingfishers, bee-eaters, drongos, bumble bees, cranes, storks, herons, swamp hens – the list is long. As we progressed with our walk, we could see a congregation of sorts – of cows and calves. They were lined up for being milked. The calves stayed close to their mothers, though ambling about restlessly. A few dogs were also lying beside these cows, curled up, comfortably enjoying a relaxed morning. We pause innumerable times in search of something that could be framed for posterity. The golden rays sparkling over dewdrops, butterflies shaking off their inertia, ducks having a dip in the canal, villagers with innocent faces walking past, the white-throated kingfisher sitting among the branches of a tree and crooning its distinctive call – sights and sounds that amaze and instill wonder.

 

Even if I came back without any photographs, the walk along this canal is definitely worth the travel and the time. That is, for someone like me who loves the simple pleasures and sights nature has to offer. If we start judging our photo walks with the number of photographs we have as keepers, we lose the whole point of the walks. Remember, the journey is the experience, not the destination!

..an ounce..

An Ounce

For long, I waited for it.
A signal, a sign, an indication.
It never arrived, it never will again.
It was stifled, smothered, suppressed.
My heart yearned, my mind pleaded,
My conscience ached, my limbs folded in prayer.
Despair creeps in, silent like the night;
Lips tremble in fear, eyes deeply shut,
Streams of sweat drenching the body,
Gloom drowning the soul;
Waited, and waited, and waited,
For a shimmer of humanity,
For hope to breathe into…
It never was to be,
As the blade swooped down,
Sending the stream of thought flying in a splatter of blood.
My head in its place, I woke up mumbling:
An ounce of humanity, please!

Vijay Sankar
19 February 2016

…sparks and fireworks…

It came up casually in one of the conversations during the late afternoon hours in office. My friends asked what inspired me to write one of my poems. It was an interesting question, and his intention was to get an insight into what goes behind the scenes of a poem. The explanation of the actual scenario evoked amused laughter. I wouldn’t blame my friends – the explanation actually sounded comical and silly. As I look back on it, it amuses me too. I wouldn’t call myself a poet – that is too high a pedestal to place me on. The intent of my writings has been personal contentment as I used to write only when I was strangled by emotions. It helped me to feel relieved, letting go of an emotional state.

The question that sparked a frenzy of thoughts was about the spark itself. That one small moment of inspiration – it could happen anywhere. We have seen it happen on the sporting field, we have heard numerous stories of creative genius from the field of art. It could be happening in the field of science too – a slice of time that could spark your Eureka moment (not literally, better not!). It could be anything – seemingly irrelevant, routine stuff, things that you never noticed before. A sound, an expression, a colour – it could work wonders. It could set you on a track you have never been on before. And it could also take you for bumpy rides. It could rip you apart, and it could pain you. You may reach the heights of euphoria and the lows of desperation. All of these could be the result of the spark.

I was recently watching an interview of Harish Sivaramakrishnan, the vocalist and founder of the music band ‘Agam’. In his conversation, he was mentioning the way some of their songs were born. He says it all happened, and nothing was planned. It was an interview I loved watching. It is all about how we take that spark in – and, let the fireworks begin!

 

Not Enough, Not Yet

A messenger window was open on his screen. He had been sending her messages for an hour. There was no response from her. He remembered the expression on her face when he saw her in the morning. Blank. He could sense some tension, her mind was onto something. He had wanted to ask her what it was, but he had left her alone. Now he wished he had asked her.

Perhaps she was not at her seat. Perhaps she was in some call, or maybe in some meeting. Or she might have walked out to have a coffee. He tried to slow down the thoughts racing in his mind. He was trying to figure out where she might have gone or what might have happened. He always liked to know what was happening. Being unaware disturbed him. She had advised him to change. He tried, but after a while gave up and decided to leave it as it was. He was comfortable with it.

The music was flowing into his ears from his iPod. He was hearing one of her favourite songs, which was close to his heart too. He was worried, though. It had been some time since she messaged. Maybe he should check on her at her seat. If she was not replying even after so many messages, then she might not be alright. That was what he was thinking as he started down the steps from the seventh floor. He had to reach the ground floor and walk to a corner to be at her desk. One could see the greenery outside from there. It was always lovely to stand there and sip a hot of steaming hot coffee, watching the rain. He smiled at that thought.

The system was locked. She was not at her seat. Her bag and other belongings were there. Her phone was not to be seen anywhere. He took her extension and dialed her cell phone. It was ringing but there was no answer. He dialed thrice but there was still no answer. Her teammates didn’t know where she had gone. He was walking back when one of the security staff told him that she had walked out talking on the phone with some papers in her hand. He was puzzled. What papers did she have in her hand?

Again, why was he getting so worked up about it?

***                        ***                        ***

She was walking fast towards the metro station. She had to catch a train as soon as possible. She was already late for her appointment. The papers she clutched close to her would decide something this day. This was not her first meeting. Every time she read the papers, it presented a different picture to her. She was apprehensive about what was coming. She saw three missed calls in her cell. That too, from her desk. He must have been there. She switched off her phone and put it in her bag. It was not the right time to talk. He would see through her excuses.

***                        ***                        ***

It was a very quiet ride back home. She had anticipated a barrage of questions and an emotional outburst. But the way he behaved was not even remotely close. He chose to remain silent and cold, just like the way she would have responded. The silence spilled into the living room, and slowly crept into the kitchen too. This was too much for her. Then it happened. She spilled coffee onto the table, and what ensued was a riot of fury. He was in a fit of rage, and she soaked in the shouts, taunts and emotions. Finally she heaved a sigh of relief. Nothing was broken, everything inside the room was in the same place and his anger had subsided. After a relatively silent dinner and an apology, he went to sleep. She was familiar with this routine. She slowly entered his library room. With trembling fingers she placed the envelope and a note on his desk.

***                        ***                        ***

He woke up late. She would have reached office already. He messaged her that he would be on leave, and proceeded to inform his manager too. With a cup of coffee in hand, he went into his library. It housed a decent collection of books, two desks, writing pads and a bin full of crushed paper. The ones he had discarded. She used to say he was too critical of his own work, and that his expectations from himself were too high. She pushed him to meet a publisher and bring out his book; not once, but many times. He was afraid of rejection. He had kept the papers safe in his vault, and it would remain there.

The envelope stood out on the table; pristine white, with a few letters in red. It read, “I’ve had enough”. He was always fond of her handwriting. The letters looked beautiful, but the words made him apprehensive. His rage always drove her to a corner, and he was apprehensive that she might have had enough. His heart raced as he opened the envelope, expecting the worst. Inside it was another envelope. With the symbol of a flying bird. His heart skipped a beat. She had played it around him. Inside the envelope there was a signed letter from the Editor-In-Chief of Falcon Inc. expressing the publisher’s interest in bringing out his book.

***                        ***                        ***

He was not there when she came back from office. The white envelope was on the table. The letters in red that she had written were intact. She turned the envelope slowly to read the words scribbled in blue- “Thank You”.

And in smaller letters – “Not enough, Not yet”.

Double Trouble

That is about the headache which made me skip a day. Second day on the trot and I couldn’t keep myself up with the buzz.

Day #67 – Six & Seven – Cricket & Biscuits…

63 for 6…the scoreboard depicted a bleak picture when I had a look at the India v/s England test match yesterday. Though it was disappointing to see our team on the back foot, it was certainly heartening to see bowlers have the edge. It has been quite some time since sixes and fours started calling the shots in the gentleman’s game, and the batsmen were having a not so gentle time with the bowlers. Ever since the number of runs scored became the benchmark for the entertainment value of the game, it has been heavily loaded in favour of the batsmen. For a change, it felt good to see the bowlers have a ball.

As for the biscuits, they are a constant presence. Krackjack, Monaco, Parle-G, Arrowroot. The favourites have changed with the times but their charm remains. Any day, any time – some hot tea, a pack of biscuits. Well, double it up, make it two. It is always better to have some backup while watching movies or sports.

Dshhh Dsshhh Dsshhhhhh…

Something fizzing out inside my head…

Day #5

I can almost hear the sound of crackers within my head as Day 5 ends up with a headache. This does happen once in a while and it keeps me on my toes. Leaves me with a bad feeling and an even worse temper. My mood could swing between extremes. It could be extremely light for a moment and even I wouldn’t have a clue where it would be the next moment. I did too much of work for the day, probably. It feels as though Armaggedon and Expendables are being screened within the multiplex there. Well, that is a battery-low indication! Time to wind up and go to sleep 🙂