Saturday, January 31, 2009

The circumference-d woman Part II

I sit at the same place,
The light gleams
And darkness outside, I see
Through the moist glass
Have I gained or have I lost?
My gaze still intact,
Not on the road,
But just opposite…
Yet again; grew deeper
The soft board is empty today,
No new arrivals,
The newspaper folds are untouched
Books containing secrets lie
neatly arranged on the shelf
No subject change.
You are here;
right besides
And I am waiting
For that acknowledging wink…

The White Tiger

White tiger is a story that is presented to the audience through a series of seven letters that the protagonist of the story, Balram Halwai writes to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to tell him about his life. This is of course a creative approach that the writer has adopted to present his story to the readers.
White Tiger as a book can be read at multiple levels. Some of the questions that the book provokes you to think about are:

• Is violence the only way to break a cycle of poverty?
• Does success eventually redeems all sins?
• And is it the all bearing poor person, who has to bear the brunt of society's conflicts?

Through the character of Balram who calls himself; "half-baked", the writer has painted the other side of the picture of India.

Balram who comes from Darkness (as a metaphor for Bihar) is a character that is portrayed in the most realistic and consistent manner. He is not allowed to finish school. Balram was a smart lad, and that was even recognized by a school inspector, who praised him as a 'white tiger', "the rarest of animals -- the creature that only comes along once in a generation". The school inspector promises to arrange a scholarship and proper schooling for the young boy, but, of course, instead his family takes him out of school and puts him to work at a teashop (to pay for marrying off one of the daughters in the family).

Balram’s story thus begins from the rural India, but entered the light that is Delhi via a job as driver to Mr. Ashok, the son of a rich landlord. Wanting to break the shackles of servitude, Balram kills his boss and later absconds with a good amount of money only to become a big entrepreneur in Bangalore.

The story touches upon various elements: how the riches bribe the govt. officials, how the poor are entangled and blamed for murder/accident committed by their bosses, how the haves exploit the haves-not, how religion has been a dominant factor in the lives of Indians and what all is carried out in the name of God, how caste system has corroded India, is democracy working for our country or only widening the gap between the rich and the poor? Etc. The book bombards the reader with all these questions through the story of Balram’s life.

The philosophy that success eventually redeems all sins is what Balram seemed to believe. Balram also started thinking that even though he committed one murder, in the end, he proved himself; he proved his intelligence and became a successful entrepreneur. It has just proviked me to think and think both ways...Whatever the criticisms that Adiga may have got, it still is a great book...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Within and outside

Within and outside,
A surrealistic chaos,
Appears, disappears and appears,
And faintly stands still

Neon lit hoardings,
And bright taxis,
Run parallel to the curved sea,
Wind gushes in,
As I roll the window of my cab,
I smell the salty sea in the air

I make a conversation of,
What happened,
within and outside,
And then he laughs and she laughs,
And he pats on my back,
And I laugh too, wondering,
over the absence of strength of mind in me

His photo in the paper haunts me,
For a moment, I abnormally,
appreciate his looks,
and then I open that gift box besides,
the diamond necklace she awaited for,
and I cry and smile, as I see the folded,
roughly cut article that she gave me,
- “Tips for men to learn gift wrapping!”

A gush of myriad emotions,
Anger and antagonism,
quotes and pompous stories,
Courage, determination and the undying spirit…

I recollect my childhood days,
Red colored helium balloon in my hand,
And tears on my cheek,
As I sit at the barber’s shop,
For my haircut on floor 14th!

I now see a broken window,
And her tattered blue saree,
fluttering in the air,
Her name plate has stains,
and her purse that I now finally get to open and see,
- Brown lipstick, hand sanitizer, compact powder, black kajal, pink colour wrapped sanitary napkin, pink nail polish and a packet of blue bindis.
- all the tickets of the movies we saw, all the coffee bills and bus tickets when we traveled together
- her hotel employee pass, driving license, and pan card
- my photo
Truly, a ladies’ purse is so much a reflection of their own self

I recollect all movies where time moves behind,
“What ifs” and “buts” swallow me,
With every morsel that I swallow,
I tremble on reading that last sms,
And yet I read, again and again and again
And every eye that I see beholds a fanatic,
And every other eye, beholds a timid…

Within and outside,
Her screams echo
The sound of “fire crackers” echo
The soothing sound of waves echo
The breaking of the glass window echoes
My yells echo
Over enthusiastic News reporters’ voices echo
“It keeps happening” echoes
31st midnight “happy new year” echoes
Her whispers echo…
And everything stops suddenly!
Silence and smile as mom pats my back
I hate to be called a kid
I drink my coffee
And stare at my notebook screen,
Again to hear the same echoes…

I look up and see my soft board,
“Men are moved by two principle things - by fear and by love” - Machiavelli
She moved me by her love and you moved me by your fear…
Both have gone
and no one rules me now…

(post the terror attacks of 26/11 )