Posted in Random

The English Affair



For a writer some strains of thought remain with you for a lifetime, and you tell yourself, ‘I’ll write about this one day.’ This essay is one of those containers in which I have been adding grains of thought for as long as I can remember, and I would tell myself: ‘someday’.

I could try defining love, but I cannot. Sonnet 116 comes to mind and when the revered poet says, “love is not love”, there is so much you could add to that list and even more to the part, “It is..”. One of the reasons I have been moved to write this morning, after sehr during ramadan, is the novel, ‘A Map for Lost Lovers’ by Nadeem Aslam.

I think that has struck a chord somewhere. Although J.R.R. Tolekin says “All those who wander are not lost,” I kind of beg to differ with that statement. I think, at least, all lovers are.

It appears that they seem to be forever in a flux, a fluid ephemeral of part liquid and part solid, and within it they seem to swim, dance, fly. They are lost. They don’t know what they are doing. But the search for the other remains a constant beacon: if I am to stick to Shakespeare’s analogies, I’d use that. And in case the search is over, which might happen for so few of us in one lifetime at least, if we are that lucky, to find the significant other, then most of the remaining life is spent attaining the impossible. And for those few of us for whom, that part is miraculously triumphed, keeping them within the grasp of your flailing fingers could easily become a story for another saga.

Between the mystery of “he loves me, he loves me not”, between the halos wrongfully placed, between the pain of having and being to the not-having and never-being, between the woes of the heart that blames itself often for its weaknesses, between the thrill of the chase, between the journey that has yet to end, for the lover you could not conquer, between the base accusations and the constant heart-breaks, between the life that doesn’t conclude, between the shallow breaths that do not cease, between the times you were made to become weak, between the moments of total relapse and pills, between the time you had it all and nothing at all, between the time air was air and then a wall, between the moments when the distances were many to when there were none, to the time when everything made sense to the period of complete oblivion, between the stretch that seemed like an infinity to the epoch which is the now, between the hurt that never went away to the time bliss was sufferable, between the moments of utmost passion to the moments of utmost destruction, to the lover who always lied to the one who stayed, love is and is not.

Perhaps most of the agony of the world can be taken away by one simple statement, “It doesn’t matter,” for truly it doesn’t. Russell in his The Conquest of Happiness, says that if all our misery and suffering was put into the retrospect of the infinite chasms of the universe, it wouldn’t even cause a ripple. Our existence just like our misery doesn’t add or take away from the grand design of things. When looked this way, nothing does really matter.

But wouldn’t that put context out of all the poets and their heartache? Wouldn’t that take the punch out of the novels we read and the aesthetic pleasure from the movies we watch? If it really didn’t matter would Heer be killed for Ranjah? Was her death pointless? Maybe. Probably. For what did she get out of it other than being brutally murdered by her uncle and left seven foot under to rot? It didn’t do her any good. It never does.

So why did Shamas die? Because Saruya carried his child but married someone else who wanted to keep it when he didn’t? Why were Jugnu’s and Chanda’s bodies chopped up, burned and then buried under the lake? Because they loved or because they defied tradition?* I think most of the time, most of the people can’t accept the fact that some of them got the longer side of the stick. It would make us happier if everyone got the shorter stick, save us. After all, wouldn’t then the world be fair?

The superficiality of the occasion reminds me of all the instances when language, English, seems to be a whole lot of nonsense. Wait, that doesn’t sound right, right? I am a language teacher, surely this is a joke of some kind? Wait, let me try to put this right.

Remember, all the times when we read things, they seem to be saying things backwards or forwards or round-and-round? And sometimes words are used, and they mean nothing at all? Before, you refute me, this is an actual thing. It goes by several names, as I like to tell my baffled students often. I ask a question, and the student raises her hand, and then I motion them to answer. They answer. It doesn’t mean anything.

At least, that is what I tell the daunted student staring wide-eyed, accusingly at me. They used my words from the questions, jumbled it all up, added two of their own and spat it all out. Much to the oblivion of the student in question, I give them words for what they just did: circumlocution, tautology, claptrap, reiteration, redundancy, regurgitation, verbosity, superfluity, pleonasm, the list is long but I think you get my point.

The arguments of lovers or all the love talk, or all the literature on the same, at times, seems to be the same words said over and over again like a man at the park, who makes bubbles out of a tin of solution. He has a wooden stick in his hand, at the tip of which is a wired sphere, which when dipped into the solution and rotated in an arm-length circle, gives a steady stream of bubbles, much to the glee and giddiness of the children who surround him.

The entire bulk of all love stories from time memorial appears to be like those train of bubbles, a repetition, a reiteration, a never-ending verbosity, a redundancy that always has a new pitch, just like this one, a circumlocution, a constant tautology.

The water bubbles that the vendor sells at the park, seem to be swimming, dancing, flying in air. Some fall to the earth and burst just like the sad demise of the sad hopes of most sad lovers. Some seem to be pinched by the eager children who can’t wait to see what happens when it pops like most curious relatives and friends of lovers who like to see it all end with the death of the pair. And some few escape into the bright, blue sky and off they sail across the horizon, no one knows for how long or how far away, but they were the few that got away to, perhaps, a more happier version of The Titanic.

Despite the constant sense of repetition in the theme of love, despite the boredom that never comes, despite the fact that Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy forever are an epic story of love in the classics (for those of you who are more into the gothic form of a novel─ then perhaps Heathcliff would suffice making your tea sweeter), despite being verbose at the expense of circumlocution, I hereby rest my case for the English Affair:

“If this be error and upon me prov’d,

I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.”


*characters from ‘A Map for Lost Lovers’ by Nadeem Aslam


Posted in Being Someone

A Moment’s Worth of Peace

IMG_20180705_130625_664If I was to scan my life, like we do when searching a keyword in our inbox and we find the relevant word highlighted in a few, scamper of emails or messages, just like that, if we had a choice to filter out the most serene moments of our lives, what would you find, in those scanty grains of sand?

Amidst the havoc of lectures that last well after darkness becomes still, and between the grading papers which lasts for over ten hours on weekends, between the running between (and during) gym and grocery, what do I recollect? What are my few grains of sand that cannot and will not pass through my fingers, till perhaps I breathe my last?

For anyone, I believe, those moments are not plentiful.

No. They are but a few…moments, and nothing more or but.

Then there is another question that can be posed. Are these moments indeed just peaceful, or do they cling to memory like debris to a stream that washes on the shores because they are our most happy moments? When we felt, perhaps, complete?

The wind rushes to my ears and I don’t see the servants around me, the maali (gardner) jabbing his spade into the earth to make it soft so it is easier for the roots to get the water, or the maid hurrying into the kitchen with fresh milk. I see, only the sky and my feet trying to touch it, in all their capacity. I am deaf to the world of reality around me while my own world is alive and throbbing with life. I push myself higher and higher on the swing. Where? Right here. In my thoughts. For a daydreamer, one doesn’t need to go very far to be away. Here is always there. And there one always finds everything one could possibly imagine of possessing.

Going home in a car that was a decade old already, with all the people you cared for. And we are talking. About what? We are deciding on a name. A name that matches with us sisters, that goes well with the rest of the family. A name, that best suits the red-cheeked cherub we just met in the maternity section of the hospital. And we discuss. One name comes up. No, that wouldn’t do. Something simpler, perhaps? A soft sound that is pleasing on the mouth too. Not anything too conspicuous. A few more entries are discussed while the girls in the back giggle. And finally, we are almost home, and we also have a name.

It’s chilly. I am wearing a red fleece jacket, that I still have in a cupboard somewhere, two decades later. I am running and I can’t stop laughing. It has been an exhilarating and a thrilling day, and guess what? It is still not over. I run past the log ride that splashes into the water, making the seated drenched and gleeful simultaneously. I run past the ride that has swings suspended from great height while it goes round and round at a great speed and at a great gradient. We have been on that already. But I am not alone. My sneakers make soft sounds on the grey pavement, these following and in league with five other pairs of squeaking shoes, all running, and laughing because we just got off a ride that had our hearts swinging from the pole, and we are running to another, that might as well have the organ reeling from our mouths.

It’s a big day. The students are nervous, the halls quiet, the teachers apprehensive, the staff wide-eyed. Something is about to happen, and I can’t breathe right. In frantic fervor, I keep going over again and again the past two years’ lectures. Yes, I did that. Yes, I made sure they got it. Ahan, went over that twice. Did they have enough practice? I am reminded of my sore wrist after the constant checking and grading. Yes, ofcourse, we did group work and individual assignments on that too. But what now? What if…? The results begin to get announced, and one after the other the tearful teens come over for a hug. Everyone I know, and those I don’t know congratulate me on my feat. I wish I could I say I fought back tears of pride, but no, my eyes were dry and my heart kept beating, ‘I can’t believe it.’

We are in the north. We just came back from a walk in the perfect woodlands of Scotland. And midway it starts raining. It is not the pelting rain of Asia, that creates puddles deep enough to swim in, no, these are soft rain drops that courtesy your skin and fall to earth and disappear. We are back at the cottage and I decide to take a dip in the tub outside. Eerie? Yes. Rain and a hot tub. But I sat through it, the kisses of rain cold against my warm body heated by the fluffy, colored bubbles in the tub. I sit there, awed with what I see and feel. I watch as the fog begins to settle on the mountain tops, and far off I see a shadow of a train chasing the clouds away.

The future is as certain for a believer as the past. What was, is, and what will be, is also, well, is. In my mind there is a moment, not yet come to being. How I see it, I fail to describe or make sense of it as you would expect me to. I am in the lounge with soft brown and pale hues of upholstery that surrounds me. An incandescent light emanates from the lamp on the glass top table I sit next to. The light filters on to the window and through it. It is dusk and getting dark. Everything is where it should, and so is everyone. All is well in the world, and I smile, for I knew I’d see this day. My heart fills with solace and I breathe a moment worth of peace, at last.


Posted in Mysticism

What jest does God enjoy to create such falseness?

What jest does God enjoy to create such falseness?

You know you are the white mouse in the wheel,

The wheel goes round and round

You spin in the wheel while your feet push past the now in the past

You know it’s fake; it’s not there– it never was,

Yet you run, run– round and round.

You tire, yet you run

It’s so tiring… ­“Run yet!

If you stopped, like you did once you will see too much,

Hear too much and sometimes see too much

You know that is madness beyond control

You know no one has answers to your soul.”

It’s all bleak here

I see through the veil

The other side I no longer see

The friend because took my sight

In a manner to help me, the mad madness

No longer lingers.

Yet I see the veil

The thread that weaves it

The pattern

The life in the life we see not, I see

I see all, in a manner that I may not speak of

Round and round, runs the white mouse

Round and round we sway and dance.

Call me to your place again one time

This time I shall not say no to the chimes

Sing I will and smile too, at the cube

I see not, I see not, no more

Yet I see some­– And

It is enough.

The reminder is enough to tug at the madness that sleeps for now

Awake it will be, maybe

Later than sooner, I know– I scare not

Run and run in the wheel you must

Aware of the world without the pretty cage

The pretty cage is pretty but that’s all it is.

Look around dear one!

You are here and not

You are you and not

We are but a paradox

Of the Lord of the lord

The knoweth knows, but if yea speak you shall be stoned.

Speak not the truth O man!

I am Truth; the within and without

Watch the step that you step

It is mine mine, mine

The world is your chess board

Play however you desire.

What you wish shall be done

What you desire you shall receive

This world is yours for the taking, O Greatness!

For you are the truth of the Truth

And we shall enter together the light

As one: Your step and mine, Be one.

Posted in Mysticism

That Which is Not

We all try to make something of this world. We learn and then we unlearn. Then we learn some more. But what is it that we actually know? What is it that we do not know? Do these circles entwine somewhere? Is there a place which is the grey area which covers both, the known and the unknown?

More importantly, can the unachievable be achieved? Is the undoable doable? That which we see, is it all? Or is there more to all this?

There are moments, mere moments, and nothing but, but they existed even if they did fleetingly.

A twirl of a skirt, and the step taken in despair towards the holy, and a moment when you are you and you are everything and everyone, the earth and the sun, the trees with their infinite leaves, and the numerous bodies, small and big that pulsate with life on this orbiting world…one swirl and you are one with each one of these things that make the universe and the world, within and without. And in all of this one moment you feel the earth move in its capacity and somewhere in space, you see the earth rotate on its axis as your science teacher had told you it did. One moment of eternity and you have lived and been alive in everything.

The eternity then being in a moment is then no more linear. It is after much reflection thought that it is spherical in nature when just like anything alive it has a circle of existence. It ends where it begins and it begins where it ends. For that reason it is also felt that anyone who is aware and who additionally can manipulate this circle of time can and may intervene in its course and perhaps go where they will and whenever they please. The concept of déjà vu may then fall into place. It is then not a dream but the feeling that you were already here and that perhaps you may have lived that very moment before in life. For then the existence of the belief that yes, you were here before and you did do all this before as it was a spherical tide that took you from here and brought you back here again.

The fact that memory entails that you were here before curtails that in some remote manner, either in the physical manner or the metaphysical, means that some element within you understands and acknowledges that this was already lived. Hence, what we know we know through the age of the soul and not the age of the mould. For what is mould  but basic elements or in other words, clay and water. But if that is the case and the mould keeps coming together and this world is destroyed and recreated over and over again, then what of the soul?

Does the soul have an age? Or is it ageless like the breather of the breath that breathed into the mould? What is the soul? Where does it come from and where to does it go? Is it, like the Lord, was, is and will be? Then, what is it that the soul knows that the mould is unawares? Or, what is it that the mould is meant to learn from the soul in the brief period that it is here? Perhaps, that was the purpose. The purpose of life was to learn not from without but from within.

The self has many voices, like the self has many selves.  Each self has a voice and each voice has a tone. The voices speak in tongues and more. At times in dreams they make manifest a message, and other times you (if you have not been conditioned to shut them out) can hear them from within the depths of the soul, and then there are moments when you hear it from without the mould. There are conversations too at times. Conversations of the self with the self. Although at times it is hard to make out who is who and what is what but these can be quite interesting just as these can be quite maddening too.

Over time, the voices may be divided into those that come from quite deep within and those that are superficial. Only you hear them and only you know that they can speak, and only you know that they all speak the truth. Many a times these are ignored and not bothered with, but at other times they appear deafening and you can do nothing but obey.

The eye sees and it sees deeply into the abysses and into the heavens. The heavens are explored when the eyes are closed but there are times, when glimpses, mere glimpses are also visible. It is believed that the elemental particles cannot be seen with the naked eye. So say those who restrict their knowledge to what comes from a theoretical script in a musty book somewhere. But then there are those that can see without the artificial lense of a metallic eye. What we see…ahh that which we see! Between the spaces, between here and there, there is no empty space. The air is not just that, air. It is more, much more.  The globules of energy surround us, enveloping us. They are more evident in the open under the sun in the sun rays. Miniscule, vibrant, on the move. Hours may be spent glazed deep into these.

Then there are sparks. These golden sparks. Over time, one may learn to relate these to the very holy. The flicker in and out of existence like tiny gold flakes that are so light that the still air can carry them in their hearts.

We are not alone for we never were.  Space is not spatial. It never was. There is more to the space around us as there was more to the river of time. What is not there is what we always see and what is there we are unaware of. The veil, and there are many veils, hides most. What they let know, is but the grain of sand that rests on the top of the mound of sand that is above a short hill which is a part of a mountain which is rooted into the earth deep under the sea, which is a part of the molten earth which floats on the core of the world. But what we see is that one grain of sand on the top closest to the eye.

The reality we know was never a reality. What we thought was but a random dream long forgotten was the actual reality. When we thought we were living, we were but sleeping, and when we thought we were sleeping we were but alive. Those that breathe are not the living. Then those that we thought were not the living as they did not breathe, were but alive.

Much was said and then it was unsaid. All was written but mostly it was hidden. Signs are signs, they remain for those who seek the truth. The truth remains solely for those who see. The sight is retained for those who hear. The gift of hearing is only for those who yearn for the spark. The yearning is for those who know that they are incomplete and that this all is but a fading lie.

Posted in Mysticism

Two Doves

The drum beats, and the feet beat too. Each step intermittent to the sound of the stretched leather hit with fervor. The eyes stayed glued to the feet. They are covered in gruesome designs of hena; gruesome for an eye that is not trained to see the beauty more popular amongst the Arabs. The fleshy ankles are adorned with a slight gold chain but without charms or jingles. They turn mesmerizingly, in unison. Who does she dance for? Her body, unseen, her face, unseen, covered – cloaked – in a chaddar that covers everything save her feet.

My glance is then caught by the two doves that reach for the heaven. They are still in the air like a mannequin’s hands carved out of glass, or perhaps ice. They are delicate, almost childlike. You can see her hands and two inches of her wrists. The hands, unlike the feet do not move in unison. Instead they are almost stationary in the air like an eagle content to be at a certain height, not needing to flap its wings. But they also turn, round and round as her frail trunk twists with each step of a three sixty degrees twist.

Posted in Mysticism, Women

The Walk to Heaven

The ride home was dreary. It was dark. Was I feeling the dark? Or was it dark? I was not sure. I stared into the stars that were nothing. The drugs make me see lights. I liked lights. They twinkled. Like a jewel in a ring. Like the light in the eyes of a forgotten smile. They twinkled like the tears on a withering cheek.

I came back. To the car. To the ride. We were going home. From the clinic.

I did not see the point. What is the point? What is the point of it all? I promised myself, didn’t I? I said, if the voice in my head starts talking, I will walk. I don’t like it when the voice in the head talks. You see. There are two voices. The good voice and the bad voice. Good. Bad. Good. Evil. Evil.

That is what it was. The voice was evil. It had its own mind. Its own voice. Its own face. It was alive. In me. And it talked. Talked back. Told me things that I did not want to know. That were there but I did not want to see.

There was hardly any vehicle on the road. Or maybe, I did not see much. The lights were bright. A bit too bright. The driver kept driving as if that was all they ever knew. As if that was all that mattered. As if putting as many miles between themselves and the clinic would refute the proceedings of the past three hours. It never happened. Like it had not so many times before.

The old vehicle trudged on. The inhabitants were quiet. One dwelling on the miles covered. One smiling at the pretty lights. One very confused. It was dark but they kept going. They knew home was near. It had to be near. They needed it to be true. They needed that bit of comfort. So they travelled in silence, towards home, away from madness.

She was home. It was over. The relief should come any time now. If the taste of gun powder in your mouth can not help you bring relief, then only home should be that relief. She was home. It was dark. The lights still twinkled. She smiled.

She got herself out of the vehicle waiting for the relief to flood in any moment. She waited. She halted. Her breath came out in rasps. Where is the comfort? Why don’t I feel it? I am home. Home. Lights.

She turned. She had to walk. Walk to a place that would bring her comfort. It was home. The lights blinded her. Had the stars fallen to welcome her on her journey? Or did the angels fly down from heaven to encourage her to find her peace? Peace. Heaven. Lights.

She walked. The dead of the night did not scare her. She was safe. Unaware of where she was headed, but aware somehow nonetheless, she walked in the dark while the lights smiled at her. Down the hill, then up the other hill. Across the rough patch of mud and up the gravel steps, into a marble enclosure.


An old chandelier with cobs hung from the ceiling. Tiny lights twinkled in a mesh of green on the walls. There was more to smell than there was to see. Incense. Cheap but strong incense. So strong that you could swallow it. But she had little care for that. She was home. This was her home.

She gazed at the stately marble enveloping the tomb of the man who slept peacefully below. She saw him. She knew him. She was home.

She put her head on the dusty, red carpet littered with straw and closed her eyes. The last thing she saw was the green twinkle that filled her eye.

Posted in Learn How to be Great

Two and Two

Dear Child,

I have a question. What is two and two? I’m sure you know the answer. The answer is not important. What is important is that you know how to put two and two together. What you decide to do with the answer that you have is up to you. It is only as important as you might make of it.

Learning to see behind the veils is an art. Few are born with it. The rest of us, like everything else, we have to acquire it over time. People say things, and they don’t say a lot more. Can you decipher what they want? What they are thinking? What is it they are toiling towards? What are their heart’s desires? So many things. So many veils. So many secrets. So many motives. We don’t know much. But what little we know. The twos and the ones, learn to put them together.

Learn to see the meaning behind the dab of the eyelash, the twitch behind the smile, the laughter behind the tear, the agony behind the happiness, and the hate behind the much shrouded love.

We are no Sherlock Holmes, but behind the creases of the bed linens try to see the sleeplessness which is quite obvious. Behind the melodious light step learn to see a man tied down in chains. Behind the humming, see the despair of the men-folk. There is plenty to see. Much more to observe.

See. Watch. Observe. Learn. So that before the bells toll you know that there is good news.



Posted in Poem

LiveI want to…


I want to live
A little
A lot

I want to live
For I did not before
So I don’t know how
But I shall learn

I was good
Then I was good some more
Then good did me no good
So I turned away for more

Satiated not
Happy not
Lived not
What did I do?

Cross the lines
Shallow is the game
Become the rule
Rule above all

I had a dream
It was dreamt
There is nothing more
But darkness onset

She lived a lie
Lies she lived
No more will she
Lie lie

They spoke the truth
Truth they spoke
Nothing but
But she won’t have it no more

A hypocrite she was
Life a scam
She became the scam
When life wore hypocrisy

A girl she knew
The girl knew her
Alike they were
But no more no more

Mirror images
Parallel but alternate
The new game begins
Two faced she lives.

Posted in Learn How to be Great

There is Always Something to Give Away

You know how we sometimes think that that we do not have much to give away to someone? Like when someone needs a word of advice, we can be miserly and think what can I possibly tell her what to do? Or when someone is looking for sympathy or just a sly shoulder to cry on, we might say to ourselves, damn with self-pity! Why bother consoling? Life is hard enough. So my friend here needs to toughen up for that big bad world out there. No word of consolation is going away from me today, no sir, uh-uh.

Then the best people to practice empathy in routine day are the ones who, un-abashed come to us; crawling, open-palmed, with misery as a mask. I know what we have been taught. These people are ragged, shameless and they have cable TV at home. Their façade is all a scam, a theatrical show, if you please. Excuse me for saying so, but at least I do not possess an X-ray vision that tells me what a person had for breakfast or if he has X-box at home which he bought by being quite a successful beggar on the busy market streets.

So, since I do not have that X-ray vision, and I am certainly not psychic, nor a detective; my job is not to judge either. What I choose to do goes only as far as to what I decide to do. What I decide to do impacts me first and much more than the out-stretched hand that goes with a tear stained face, all deliberately messy with dirt and perhaps even soot. I am my judge and jury. I am the convict and the innocent. My jurisdiction and my realm extends as far as my material body occupies the space in this physical plane.

There is always plenty to give away. Shove your hand deep into that pocket or your bright, ketchup-coloured, red handbag. You are bound to find a hanky, or a word, perhaps even a shoulder or a five rupees coin if you look deep enough. There is always more to give away. You just need an eye that can find what to give and a hand that is willing to part with something of your own.

Posted in Being Someone, Mysticism, Theology


The driving force. Obsession. A man is no man if he has no obsession and if he is not obsessed. Just like a man is no man if he is not possessed by the soul that he carries in his vessel. Obsession is the heat of the soul. Anything other than that is but, death.


Obsession. Dead is all that which does not have a soul. And the soul is dead that which has no passion for obsession.

God. The Higher Power was obsessed. He wanted to be known. Hidden like a well-guarded, highly secretive treasure…he was obsessed to be known. So. He created man- that man may come looking for the secrets that come after the guard. No man can find God, if he is not obsessed like his Maker.

Our Lord was so obsessed with being found out, which alas only few took that road, that he created not just man, but a mankind and everything around it which may support it. He surrounded his creation with all the signs that he may understand and know.

Man does not know. He does not walk further than the cradle. Once he crawls out of it, he stands there looking around. Then, for the remainder of his life, he rocks it.

Obsessed. Obsession. Be possessed with obsession that you may learn that there is a spark. The spark that only alights for half a second in the air before it goes out. Beautiful, magnificent, glory. For half a second. Obsession lights the way to glory.

No man has ever lived who has not had an obsession. No obsession has ever failed to breathe life into a soul and make it whole.