Saturday, 7 December 2013

Stay Inspired

It is always good to know what inspires us. It could be courage, sacrifice, heroism or simply being human as much as our dreams, someone else's life or plainly the desire to excel. Those who know, know, that nothing is more cool, nothing works better and nothing is more rewarding than staying inspired in life. The goal and the path to it become more clear than ever to the one who finds inspiration in life. 

I discovered my inspiration for writing, in the first lines of "Shantaram" (G.D. Roberts) which indulges the reader in the unforgettable life experiences of the author. They read thusly:

"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn't sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it's all you've got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. and the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life."

I had this 900+ page book in my hand which I had just begun and I couldn't get past the introductory passage for about almost an hour and I kept coming back to it, from the 150th, 330th and 800th pages. I just couldn't get over these words of Roberts.  

You may find such a point of inspiration irrelevant, ridiculous and laughable. Chances are that you may find it amazing as well. The truth, notwithstanding those perceptions, will remain that I am absolutely in awe of these immortal words which begin the book of Roberts. They contain such undeniable truth of life that it feels like the whole philosophy of everything has been emptied into them by their author. To take the matter further, the fact that many a times written words can cause life changing initiations, often becomes instantly evident to the ones who read them, as is abundantly manifest from the opening lines of "Shantaram". It inspires me everytime I sit down to write about my ideas. To distill my thinking into words that can be read, felt related to and remembered by the ones I write them for. The opening passage of "Shantaram" inspires me in that light. 

Likewise my motivation to strive for excellence in work, to be a doting folk and a caring friend and to stand up and speak against wrong and so on and so forth all owe their inspiration to external sources. I am not sure whether I would have done what I have done, had those sources been inexistent in my life. I have often therefore felt, that it doesn't matter how you are inspired as long as you are inspired rightly.

If you haven't found your inspiration yet, look to life, for there's always something inspiring unfolding around us. Find your inspiration and see the magic.

Stay Inspired.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Immortal Madiba

          The world, no matter how pessimistically we would prefer to believe otherwise, is full of good men. Men who are willing to love, to help, to join hands for greater good. Surrounded by imminent threats of war, disease, desolation and starvation, there is hope for survival with dignity. I have always believed that to accomplish true immortality, one has to live beyond himself. One has to partake in the progression of human kind, the kind of which is only achieved by offering the self in service of society, in being there for the needy, in standing up against injustice.                                                      

     Nelson Mandela (whom I'll lovingly refer to as 'Madiba', exactly how he is fondly referred to by his clan fellows) did exactly the same. Madiba stood up against injustice. He ensured, at the cost of his cherished liberty, that the basic and inherent entitlements of his fellow men and women were available to them. And for that he was accused of sedition and other grave charges, tried and convicted. The Rivolia trial ended with his incarceration for life. Mandela served a long 27 years in prison. But in that confinement Madiba found his emancipation. In that suppression he discovered liberty, not only of his mind but for thousands of his fellow men and women, fighting for whom had him landed in jail. His was the perfect example of how man made institutions and norms, howsoever oppressive, cannot really chain a champion of freedom. Laws howsoever barbaric, will always fall in the end, vanquished at the hands of those who surrendered their everything in the fight against unfairness. There's a divinity involved in the cause and that divinity guides that fighter, that champion, in his stand against tyranny.

           Madiba's release was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. He published his autobiography and opened negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. As South Africa's first black president Mandela formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rightsabuses. Continuing the former government's liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services.

         Having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Soviet Order of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"); he is often described as "the father of the nation".

         Madiba died yesterday (5.12.2013). Men come and go. Only a few go leaving behind endless inspiration for the new order. I am tremendously inspired by his life and works. Without even the slightest exaggeration of the truth, Madiba was a man, the likes of whom only come once in forever. May his soul find everlasting peace.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Trust Yourself..

               I will not seek anyone's reiteration of the annoying truth that it's exasperating to always have people telling you what to do. It begins at home and remains so everywhere. Peers, friends, colleagues, family and so on and forth seem to have a better idea of what we actually seek. The conviction in their tone and tenor is often more than in ours, which is why, it appears that they are right. Well, perhaps they are not. Endeavour to find out for yourself.                                      

             I can say it with the greatest of confidence that if one trusts his instincts and takes the plunge, mostly things would turn out alright. I may not have experienced much of this liberating magic in my life but I have seen too much around me to believe in it. I may not have had the guts to give up everything for my dreams, but I have known people who have. The dazzle and the sparkle that their adventure adds to their life is enviable. I have earned the denigration of many, whom I fervently encouraged to never let go of their dreams and their aspirations. They simply fail to understand why I wish from others what I never followed myself. I wish to tell them that I have often considered the biting truth that it is more painful to have never tried to follow your dreams than to have tried to live your dreams and failed.

             Only those who, for reasons many, had to give up on their aspirations, know how agonizing it is to wake up every morning into the realization that they will never live their dream. That they will walk further and further from it with the passage of every moment. That they will always be that much short of completeness. That they will never be able to smile fully and think that life is worth living. Please never for a moment mistake beneficial advice for unwanted hindrance in the path of your goals. That'd be utterly foolish and would lead you to sheer doom. Be smart to ascertain what's best for you, yet be patient to hear out others and be rock solid in your determination. It may take a phase of trying days or months or perhaps few trying years to embrace what you dream of but not trying at all would lead to lifetime of regret. Choose wisely.

              Just don't let people tell you what to do. Do not let fear get the better of you. As I said, trust your instincts and take the plunge. Mostly things would turn out alright

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Brighter Sun

The world, in the words of my father, has become ruthlessly unkind. As if nature's nature has suffered such unforgivable betrayal from its most promising limb - humankind, that at times it seems that it is no more concerned about our survival. The anguish is mutual for we too have surrendered our entitlements from it without a question. Factions, greed, communalism, selfishness have vanquished what once used to be our distinguishing marks, and in turn the human race and the facade of its character. Life seems to be on a course to come a full turn to the short brutish type that it used to be in times ancient. Men kill at the drop of a hat and have flown miles from the cradle of mother nature. We have become inexplicably self centred and unconcerned about the greater good of the greater number, the very essence of social cohesion.

Hope, notwithstanding extreme aridity, is also man's disposition and in its reaping I trust that we can salvage the future. I am heavily relying on the redeeming adage that "It's never too late". That we are capable of rising above our temptations, our own self, our greed and our hostilities. That we are equipped with the moral fiber to think beyond us and our comforts. We are endowed with the angelic share of composition to sacrifice, to be selfless, to accommodate and to love. 

Take a look at Project Sunlight.

For our children. For tomorrow.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


What do I seek in the darkness
Under the starry firmament,
Wakeful for nights endless,
When into bossomy imaginings other are lent
What do I adore in the aching
Of loneliness bequeathed from ages,
Pending with the very breath,
Which inside me rages

What baits me into its fold,
Veiled as it is imperceptible
Awaiting my notice it lurks bold,
Utterly vague yet throbbing n' formidable

What wanes alongside the moon
That I forget the question too soon
Before I know the cause of it all
It picks on my restless soul

Feeding for eons on my vanity
Now like a silent climax
Like a torrid necessity
I keep at it bereft of sanity

Monday, 18 November 2013

Expect Still..

                   Stung by disappointment so many times, that I preferred not to count anymore, I always held on to my expectations. For that I've been called insane as I've been branded self destructive. Yet I nurtured innate faith in my expectations and the threads that bound me in short lived yet fulfilling relationships. My closest friend is of the firm opinion that man should expect less and less in relationships, to escape disappointment and misery. He would quote ancient adages to justify his thinking. He would cite those with scholarly perfection and conviction. I enjoy no such advantage. For I believe in the contrary. I trust my expectations. This I say despite having endured bitter anguish because of my expectations. I have trusted, been betrayed, trusted again only to be betrayed again. Perhaps I am an incorrigible believer in man's characteristic of living upto expectations, despite an overwhelming statistics disclosing the opposite.

                  I don't enjoy expectating and not having my expectations met. It hurts like hell. Tearing me into pieces beyond my own fathoming. I had a harrowing time when I expected in love. Those endlessly agonizing nights of resisting hopes pitted against a gullible and fanciful adolescent heart ever willing to drown in the tides of dreams and desires. I knew that I should not have waited, yet I waited piously and at times purposelessly. You know, I fell for my highschool friend, expecting her to love me back in the same fierceness that I loved her. Was I my expectation misplaced ? I cannot deny that if I hadn't expected so, my life thence would have been different. But doesn't it sound too mechanical to be in love and not expect anything, simply because there's a proverb confirming that expectation might lead to misery. In fact, when my friend came to know of my feelings, she said she would love back but never actually did. I expended the tender years of my youth in endless waiting for her love to become a reality. I expected her to recognize my affections, to respect them and to love me back, to keep loving me forever. Was that unnatural on my part ? I eventually realized that she is never going to love me. That I will only be a friend to her. That's the bitter sweet limit of my share in her priceless heart. I couldn't forsake our bond, yet could not endure being around her knowing that I'm not looked upon by her the way I look at her. In a matter of days she confided in me about her budding emotions for a senior year guy. They are married today. 

                     In those days of relentless torment that I underwent, there came a point in time when I realized that there's nothing wrong to expect. It's amazing now to recall how then the whole of my existence used to be wrapped under the tentacles of pain on one hand, and yet, my mind, free and hoping, would surrender to the addiction of that hope on the other. I reckon, in retrospect, that if I hadn't expected then, I would have dwindled away into nothingness. It didn't matter that I was expecting the improbable, may be even the impossible. What mattered was that my expectations kept me afloat, when I had every reason to sink. I don't regret a moment of those days of loving or waiting or hoping. Nor do I regret having expected in the midst of tantalizing truth. I trusted her. Trust came to me naturally, instinctively. I wanted to trust, I felt like trusting. Therefore I trusted. 

                      Layers of reconciliation later, when I lost my heart again I (or atleast I felt I did) I met with the exact repetition of my past fate. I expected, I fancied - mountains and hills, snow capped, home in meadows, belongingness, roses and daisies, guiltless moments, eternity - only to be asked to let go. This time the pain wasn't as excruciating as it was the first time around. But that's obvious. The point is, despite almost a sacred truth of life that expectation is highly likely to land you up in agony, I believed in expecting. I'm not being hypocritical since I have endured enough to earn the right to claim that belief. Moreover, I never memorized the rules of life, the wisdom of sages and the list of wise men's words whenever I have walked into relationships. I simply bond. And when I bond I feel more human than I ever do. And its human to trust, to expect, to want, to desire. Stripped of these basal values, no man would be human nor any bond would exist in relations. Let's not give up on the traits that make us the loving, doting, suffering, redeeming creatures that we are. Giving up on these is like being afraid of being human. Life, we know, is not only roses. Relationships too come with their unique thorns, sharpened further by expectations and hopes. Let these thorns sting you. Endure the pain. Wipe the tears that follow. Smile when the pain is gone. There is no fun if we constantly plan out what's going to unfold in a relationship and take 'precautions', like 'not expecting' . Take with open hands what life gives you. More importantly, whatever you take, do not let that blind you to the awesomeness that the future might hold for you. Take a leap of faith or perhaps practice leaping with faith.                                                     

               These unique life experiences will count when we lie on our deathbeds recalling our journey. When we see through the past, remembering what a colourful canvas it is. Full of myriad events, joys, miseries, expectations, disappointments, fulfillments, anticipation, endurance. Not one which is manoeuvred to suit our preferences without surprises, pleasures, difficulties, victories, losses, sorrows. Only a bland display of thought out occurrences. Where's the life in that ?

                  No matter what your expectations get you into, expect still.

Sunday, 17 November 2013


"It is beneficial to remember that man being a creation of nature, will seek his source of sustenance from nature alone. Any deviation will tantamount to interference in the grand scheme."

                                                                                                                              - Grandma

             I would like to believe that my grandmother has already assumed a beautiful life form somewhere. Nature has probably immortalized her kind soul in the firmament above as a shining star looking down upon her descendants with her protective vision. A child of nature herself, she spent her life with utmost reliance on nothing but agents and forces of nature for guidance and healing. She has left behind a legacy of traditional practices and inculcation of faith in nature's power for the entire family to follow. I have learnt so much from her, about the value of natural growth and healing that it's only befitting for the present purpose, that I share my learnings here. We often discussed Ayurveda as a potent alternative to modern day chemically synthesized products.

                As long back as I can remember, the first time I heard her educating us was perhaps when I was in my fourth standard when she readily discouraged the popular perception that advertised health drinks had anything good to do with my growth. Worried by my relatively slow growth rate, my mother must have found the answer to her worries in the alluring TV commercial health / growth drinks. That too when men wearing doctor's apron sold them with tacit guarantee. Granny laughed off the idea and scribbled down the names of a couple of vegetables and fruits and handed out the note to my mother with instructions to ensure that I regularly ate those. She looked at me and lovingly advised me to remain actively indulged in sports at school. I grew alright. Later when my sister was born, granny took precautions. She was scathingly averse to administration of synthetic products of non natural origins, howsoever popular, to babies and children. Therefore she declared in no uncertain terms that no synthetic baby oil, lotion etc shall be used on her granddaughter. Alternatively, she ensured that she was massaged properly with warm oil and her bathing water was well cleansed with familiar looking herbs with soothing scent. Granny had her own people who brought her the required stock of herbs and shrubs from some far off place. Fortunately for my sister, ayurvedic tonics had gained prominence for their usefulness among children, by the time she was five. She thus had the benefit of ayurvedic warm oil massage during her infancy and the advantage of ayurvedic tonics to enhance her overall mental and physical development. One look at our adolescent photographs and the difference between our physique tells easily. It was pretty reassuring to know that when my cousin's daughter was born a few years back, grandma let her use Dabur Lal Ayurvedic Baby Massage Tail , even though she normally disapproves use of anything purchased from market, on babies. She had a good hard look at the bottle from all sides, strained her bespectacled eyes on the ingredients list, poured the contents on her palm and took a long deep smell of the oil and handed the bottle back to my cousin with a smile. Baby massage has considerable benefits for the infant. It calms the baby and ensures that he gets a sound sleep. Proper massaging of baby improves his digestive system and helps in the release of flatulence. A good oil massage helps babies to be more flexible and even increases the blood circulation in their bodies. No wonder massaging augments growth in babies.

            Many years later when I got curious about the source of her knowledge and started hunting for some secret diary of my granny, I actually stumbled upon a journal which was full of tips and notings regarding a number of, what seemed like, ayurvedic and other natural sciences. It was in those pages that I found out that my sister was being given, during her infancy, something known as 'Abhyanga' massage oils during her early morning and evening massages. The herbs used for the massage were Country Mallow (Atibala) and Sesame (Tila) for protecting her delicate skin against topical infections. The soothing herbs which were being put in her bathing water were herbal extracts such as Banyan Tree (Vata) and Sandal (Chandana) that are full of fragrance and antimicrobial properties. There was a highlighted line in the same page where I discovered this information. It read that such massage also ensures proper growth in children. When I took the diary to my grandmother she closed the book and started speaking. From that day onwards we often discussed Ayurveda and the healing power of nature especially for babies and children.

               There is a specific branch of Ayurveda, 'Kaumarbhritya', dedicated to diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to pregnancy, childbirth and pediatrics. It recommends specific diet, routine, nourishment and conduct for women before, during and after delivery. 'Kaumarbhritya' as a discipline of pediatrics incorporates infinitesimal details of various health disorder among children. It gives various natural and herbal remedies to the regular health ailments of a newly born baby. Furthermore it concerns itself with the proper method of nurturing and healthy upbringing of infants as well as purification and improvement of mothers' milk. Apart from this, it also prescribes the ideal diet for newly born babies upto sixteen years of age. Ayurveda recommends milk as a brilliant nourishment for “ojas” in children. (Ojas denotes the substance that connects the mind to the body and consciousness, it is a wholesome biochemical substance that nourishes all body tissues and has a direct influence on the nature and quality of physical, mental and emotional life.) There are many preparations in Ayurveda that work as antioxidants. Combination of honey and ginger is one of them. Raw organic honey helps to expectorate excess mucus and ginger juice maintains ‘Agni’ or so called digestive fire. A daily teaspoon of this combination can prevent common flu, cold, and allergies; one can also add a pinch of turmeric. The appropriate dose of fresh and green or wholesome foods is indispensable for children. Feeding children with nutritious meals is helpful for their healthy growth. Food such as vegetable soups, hot cereals, jams and kitchari provide nutrients that are easily digested. It is necessary to introduce small pinches of digestive spices such as fennel, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric and coriander to remove toxins from body. Every child is born with his own uniform percentage of Vayu, Pitta and Kapha. While vayu denotes wind and pitta signifies bile, kapha stands for phlegm. The key lies in maintaining equilibrium amongst these three elements.

               Today when the market is flooded with medicines (allopathic) for all kinds of ailments, it should be the endeavour of parents, in my opinion, to ensure that their children are administered less and less allopathy. Ayurvedic products are a brilliant source of treatment, enrichment, nourishment and could perhaps be used as an efficient alternative for Allopathy, atleast in case of common ailments like common cold, flu, etc. in children. It is in the larger interest of children that they should be given nature based treatment. They have no side effects and are tested by generations preceding ours. I remember the elders of my family always advocated the use of ayurvedic products instead of chemical based or synthetic products. Instead of running to the nearby pharmacist at the first sneeze, parents should see if the body of their child heals itself naturally. As that would ensure stronger immunity.

                 Ayurveda, to my understanding is the sum total of nature. It is believed that since all the elements of the universe are assimilated in man, the answer to his difficulties must therefore emanate from nature itself. Unlike modern medicine, Ayurveda emphasizes on individual rather than on the disease. Its foundation is based on the maintenance in humans, of equilibrium, of what I have already referred to as the three doshas namely vayu, pitta and kapha. It is indeed interesting that Ayurveda does not stress on these doshas as much as it focuses on forces that cause these substances to be produced in the body. They are the consequence of the assimilation of the fundamental elements in the universe by our sensory organs. They exist in all individual constitutions, in characteristic combinations, endowing each with a unique feature. Ordinarily the human body maintains equilibrium in the functioning of these doshas. As per Ayurvedic belief even virulent germs cannot multiply and produce disease if this equilibrium is maintained in the body. Maintaining good health is as important, as per Ayurveda, as treating diseases.

                  It is often said that things assimilated by a child's body in his formative years will yield dividends likewise in the later days of his life. If this is true then I do not think it should be difficult to choose between chemical based synthetic products and nature based ayurvedic ones, when it comes to deciding which one to allow for our children's bodies. It is time we accepted that mere absence of disease is not health. As parents we should ensure that the mind and body of our babies are nurtured in their early days in such manner that they remain in excellent state throughout their life. It is my personal experience that Ayurveda is a convincing answer in that direction         

Friday, 8 November 2013

Lay me free under sand
A breath then I might catch

For the whole firmament
Has emptied what I seek

Deliver me from her desire
My heart then might beat

For her memories will 
Leave with me........

Saturday, 14 September 2013


Our favourite filmmaker is back with his new twisted thriller. Watch the trailer

Hitting theatres on October 11th .

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Disturbing Whispers

Farewell sunrise                                     
Adieu sunset
Though you shaln't plead
Am no more drawn to your velvet

I care no more for
All your silver,
The gold's glitter,
Nor the beats of hearts' shiver

Hold your chords
Whisper not aloud
Decades and countless
Futile lullabies later, 

Lastly found dreams
Worth sleeping for

Photo credit: Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Spine Massage


           A lot is often spoken about ideals that should exist within us and which should command our actions. Almost immediately when most confront the world and its myriad tests, these standards are effortlessly sidestepped in order to remain afloat among the several faceless suspended in the shallow stream of convenience and comfort. Philosophy has tumbled to a point where being unconcerned about events of seminal significance and being selfish are considered as sure ways to ensure personal peace. It is however my firm belief and experience that no matter how smart an approach to evade confrontation and challenges may be, one is eventually bound to run into what he fears and avoids. One can only temporarily delay conflict, if he does not face it and overcome it at the opportune moment. There should therefore be no hesitation in taking up challenges. 
         Now it is important to understand that these challenges need not present themselves only in such of ways so as to appear as absolutely relevant. They could equally exist within situations which even if unattended by us would not alter anything material about how we live. Intervening in the commission of a roadside misdemeanour and attempting to prevent the culmination thereof is an apt example because had I not intervened I could have walked ahead into the comfort of my winter quilt deceiving myself into believing that the victim is paying the price of his own 'presumed' misdeeds or that he is living his destiny. On the other hand, my intervention may merely appear as an invisible act, incompetent singularly to leave any ripple in the murky waters of dwindling humanity. But it would in all likelihood represent the conscience of the society of which I'm a member. My interference could be a lead for others in waiting to get involved and when they do, the required message would be sent across to those considering us incapable of resistive action.

          Man may be selfish but he is also capable of exemplary sacrifice. Man may be brutish but he is also gifted with ability of historic kindness. He may be self centred but he is equally capable of being defyingly selfless. Its time we got in touch with these redeeming components of our identity as men, components which have been long tricked into dormancy by an unacceptable contentment discovered in deliberate oblivion of the demise and decline of morality. We can begin by not taking our duties and jobs for granted and by being examples which inspire honesty and dedication among our successors, no matter how pathetic or monumental we may perceive our jobs to be. Let us not only raise our voice against oppression and injustice but also act against it, notwithstanding their irrelevance to our immediate surroundings. Let's be honest. An honest way of life is probably the hardest one in today's time but if it's lived with conviction and moral courage then one can live with dignity and without any regrets. Let us inspire others. 

          It has always been my biggest fear to be called imbecile or spineless. I have myself uttered these words for people who did not speak up, act or stand up when I thought they should have argued, fought or resisted in times of dire need. Therefore I make every attempt whenever possible to matter in situations where otherwise I would not have mattered. There's invariably stiff opposition every time against my endeavour, but I intercede nevertheless. I have been called 'show off', reminded of being unrequited and made fun of, especially by those who did not say a word out of fear of being wrong. I have even been bullied. But in such times these words which I'd read long back in a story, have kept me stubborn in my resistance  -  “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Rain & Reminiscence


            This happened neither in the recent past nor so far back in time as to mess up my confidence to accurately narrate its unfolding. I was seated in the office car, speeding back home on the NH-5 connecting Cuttack - Bhubaneswar after a pretty elaborate second phase of training. Belligerent clouds had begun to gather from all corners and overwhelm the sky. Rain kissed breeze from distant fields had started to blow across the plains flanking the freeway. I rolled down the car window panes letting the refreshing zephyr enliven my spirit. I was in no mood to not relish the ambience. Cloud gates flung open and in a matter of moments, all one could see, hear and feel was the rain. It appeared as if the clouds above led a quest for invading the lands below. The whole visible terrain around me stood engulfed by incessant pouring. The parched earth stood happily vanquished at the hands of million soldiers unleashed by its heavenly adversary.

     On the wheels, Bijay strained himself to focus on the traffic ahead due to the dwindling vision. He rolled up the car window panes to bar the rain from making its way inside the car. It caused an instant quiet within. Bijay and me could almost hear each others' pounding hearts fused with the rhythm of relentless rain beating on the car's roof. Daunted by the watery - windy onslaught, I felt incapable of thinking, especially when monster - sized trucks overtook our car or vice versa, our borders mingling beyond distinction, making frightful consequences imminent. I fidgeted in my seat. 

              Through the thick pane, further thickened by ceaseless hammering of mad drops and wild wind, my eyes caught the hazy glimpse of a gang of college lads mounted on their motorbikes, riding in tandem with us. They were a group of eight. Some had cared to put on their helmets and the rest must have thought doing so to be a disgrace to their adolescence . They confronted the torrent with such disdain that for a moment I was embarrassed thinking about my own fear. I rolled down my side of the window pane slightly and caught their act clearly. The boys were purposefully enjoying what many were escaping. The sight took me few years back in time when it was not unfamiliar for me and my friends doing what they seemed to be relishing today. We too had let million raindrops spray on our faces, oblivious of the shock and awe of bystanders. I almost sensed the fragrance of the raindrops on my own face, felt the pinch of mad drops crashing on my temple, recalling the lasting tingle of the watery bombardment. Recalling how we used to halt at tattered cottage tea stalls by the highway and warm ourselves up with cups of piping hot beverage indulging in pointless blabber with strangers sharing our shelter. 

           Remembering those times filled me with a strange sense of vulnerability. Born out of the realization that such times have long passed me by. That now it could be only a figment of my memory, nothing more. That now I could only stretch my hand and cause nothing but ripples in the mirage that lures me, bereft of any capacity to actually hold what it shows. I get carried away by my weakness for escapades provoked to embark thereupon by those to whom the moments now belong. One out of the group caught me staring and returned a warm smile. I beamed back. They sped away leaving me split between alternate dimensions in that very moment. Partly in my present where I sat captive to mundane obligations and imposed concerns and partly with them, who though rode at a distance of couple of yards were actually eons away in time.

        I have since reminisced the experience for months. Everytime I do, I am brimmed with an urgent urge to act. I calm my raging spirit, negotiating through an adult mind, telling myself that no matter what I may do, I'd not sense the unadulterated delight that I once knew, without concern or worry. May be I am fringing on pessimism. A dose of life may cure me.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Shades of Love

Love is not only
When we hold on
It lives too, when
In time we let go

Love isn't only 
When we show,
It's alive too when
Furtive tears flow

Love isn't only when 
Together we could be 
It's love too, when 
In redeeming them, we split

Love isn't only when it's said to be,
It's there in the unsaid quiet
Of hopeful eyes and the still of lips
Born of ages of waiting mute

Love is in giving up
When right it is so to do
It's in failing with pride
When a chance is all you got

It's in burning to save
In suffocating to revive
To deliver the 'one' from pain
Gifting your soul as token

No lover ever measured love
Nor weighed it in earthly scale
To each his heart sang that note
That's how he knew that in love he fell

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Does Crime Heed Age ?

      The perceived inadequacy in the sentencing of the delinquent juvenile in the Nirbhaya case has provoked debates on the strength of juvenile laws of our country. There is pervasive unrest and non reconciliation with the fact that the most brutal perpetrator of the abhorrent offence was sentenced for a period of only three years. First things first. The ire of laymen in the present scenario need not be misdirected towards the Juvenile Justice Board presided over by the Principal Judicial Magistrate, which handed down the sentence to the guilty. This is for the obvious reason that the Board had no room to interpret the sentencing afforded by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ Act) in any more suitable manner than it has now. In fact the Board has handed down the maximum sentence that the law could afford under the circumstances.  

          I read a reported tweet of Ms. Kiran Bedi stating "Courts need not be mechanical robots. We make laws and then interpret them not to be enslaved but do justice to victims too". While the rhetoric of the statement is by and large not incorrect, it is delusional of one to expect that Courts will enhance the sentencing of any convict beyond what the law enables it to award. This is because the law of our land mandates that penal (criminal) laws are to be interpreted exactly as they are codified since they determine someone's liberty or the taking away of it. The Courts cannot invent or manoeuvre sentencing for a proven criminal to suit popular expectations. It is however another thing that the law itself may be inadequate to dole out an appropriate response of the State against a shocking crime as the one in the present case. In the Nirbhaya case, the juvenile was charged by the investigators, to have been the most barbaric in the gang while committing the heinous crime. It is yet to be ascertained from the Board’s order as to what extent his barbarism has been established as charged. Be that as it may, once the accused has been found guilty, what has added insult to injury is the fact that he was only a few months younger than being eighteen years old, for which the law enabled him to be treated as a juvenile. The circumstances of the 'Nirbhaya' case force one to wonder whether the JJ Act must come to the rescue of such a person who is capable of partaking in a brutal gang rape exhibiting actions of the most diabolic, inhuman and ghastly order. 
             This is where I have a suggestion to make. The Parliament need not completely turn the JJ Act on its head. What it can do is, keeping in mind situations where the accused displays sufficient maturity of action at par with adults, make room in the law for Courts to treat the actions of a juvenile as ones deserving consideration like those of adults. It is well known how the Hon'ble Supreme Court has passed a series of rulings to determine the broad and near exhaustive principles for considering as to whether a death sentence is to be awarded in any particular case. The Legislature of our country must take a leaf from that book and introduce appropriate provision in the JJ Act which would make it possible for Courts to delineate between cases where a juvenile's actions smack of an immature display of choices whilst committing ordinary offences and cases where except for the mere fact that the accused is days away from exceeding his juvenility, there is nothing ordinary about his alleged actions. In other words the law must enable adjudicators to deal differently with juveniles accused of ordinary offences and those accused of heinous crimes. Once such a provision is in place the Courts will have the handle to deal with cases like that of the juvenile in the Nirbhaya case, in an appropriate manner. The Legislature could either enable the Courts to treat the case of the latter category as per the stringency of IPC or the particular provision could also prescribe higher punishment in the JJ Act itself. 

But the discussion would be incomplete without restating of the observations of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the matter as to whether the in case of heinous crimes like murder and rape etc., the juveniles should be tried under normal laws. The Court observed inter alia that :
“If what has come out from the reports of the Crime Records Bureau is true, then the number of crimes committed by juveniles comes to about 2% of the country’s crime rate "
“In recent years, there has been a spurt in criminal activities by adults, but not so by juveniles....In the absence of any proper data, it would not be wise on our part to deviate from the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which represent the collective wisdom of Parliament”

While admitting that there could be exceptions where a child in the age group of sixteen to eighteen may have developed criminal propensities, which would make it virtually impossible for him/her to be reintegrated into mainstream society, the Court said,

“but such examples are not of such proportions as to warrant any change in thinking, since it is probably better to try and re-integrate children with criminal propensities into mainstream society, rather than to allow them to develop into hardened criminals, which does not augur well for the future.”

        In all fairness I must admit that while the observations of the Hon'ble Apex Court are true to the vision and the object of the JJ Act when read with the statistics quoted by it, it would be fitting to the need of our times that the Legislature took care of the expectations of the victim and his / her family from our judicial process while considering the adequacy of the JJ Act.