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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Question

Yet again I stand on the shore
Gazing longingly at the overwhelming ocean
To dive in, or not to?
That is the question!

Yet again I look up at the clouds
Potent with the promise of a benign downpour
To drench in the shower, or not to?
That is the question!

Yet again I glance at the fire
Laden with the luster of a sensuous embrace
To take the leap, or not to?
That is the question!

Yet again I look at that smile
Simmering with the portent of uncharted desires
To lose myself in you, or not to?
That is the question!

As I form the blank verses in my mind
Plunging into the recesses of my ardent passions
To pen down this yearning, or not to?
That is the question!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

What is Love

What is love?
Is it the expected in the realm of unexpected?
A subtle whisper through the dream window
That unearths a truth uncharted
That, what was right in front
Yet, which the thoughts had averted
Is this love?

Is it the ardor?
The perennial devotion
That would never bear fruit
Yet, will remain a principal passion
Which disregards all common sense
And knows nothing, but emotion
Is this love?

Was it the perfect match?
That was never to bloom
In those troubled days
Of immense misery and gloom
No matter how exemplary it could have been
It was destined since beginning, to end in doom
Was that love?

Was it the first trepidation of a throbbing heart?
A stomach, full of butterflies
That was when the world was fresh
And there was this dreamy sparkle in the eyes
It was a feeling that defied set norms
And manifested itself, in a form, unwise
Was that love?
Maybe all that was love, is love
Or possibly, it's an imprecise notion
Love may still be an undiscovered island
Lying unexplored, in the middle of the ocean

The Fallen Axe Series

The Fallen Axe

It's been a month
Since the axe fell
The pain has abated
The scar, does tell

Of the joyous morns
And the momentous eves
That were all as naught
As fallen autumn leaves

Of the breaking wave
That hits the shore
Is towering one moment
And then, no more

At times I think
Is this the end
Or on the long road
Has come a new bend

Hoping for a sun
That showers its light
And makes this scar
Disappear from sight

Was it for good?
No one can tell
It's been a month
Since the axe fell

It's been a month
Since the axe fell
The pain has abated
The scar, does tell

Of the joyous morns
And the momentous eves
That were all as naught
As fallen autumn leaves

Of the breaking wave
That hits the shore
Is towering one moment
And then, no more

At times I think
Is this the end
Or on the long road
Has come a new bend

Hoping for a sun
That showers its light
And makes this scar
Disappear from sight

Was it for good?
No one can tell
It's been a month
Since the axe fell


The Fallen Axe  - A Year After

Its been a year
Since the axe fell
The scar has faded
But does, still tell

Of a momentous blunder
A perennial regret
Was it my folly?
Or was it my fate?

A pearl, very precious
Was I, to take
As luck would have it
I went for a fake

Then came an avalanche
Of the kind I dreaded
And for a moment 't was bleary
Wherever, I was headed

I felt like a marooned sailor
On a deserted island
While the rest of the world
Took quite an offensive stand

Just then it dawned
At the back of my mind
That the 'my'-ness in me
Was, one of a kind

This sense of being me
Is what keeps me alive
As with each passing day
Towards a new dawn, I strive

The tumult gets tempestuous
As the river nears a bend
'Tis always the toughest
Towards the very end

Its a matter of time
When with the vicious cycle torn
From the long burnt ashes
Emerges a phoenix, reborn

Was this for good?
Now, I can tell
Its been a year
Since the axe fell


Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Journey


Once upon a time, there was a wild dog. He was a bit different from the others in his pack. While the others spent time playing and fighting over trivial matters, he preferred to sit and muse. He took no special delight in hunting like the others, and looked at it rather dispassionately, as a necessary activity. As the days passed, he grew unhappy. He felt that there must be some higher purpose in his life, apart from what his brethren believed, yet, he did not know what it was.
One night, he had a dream. He saw himself standing in front of a large tree which he had never seen before. It was a beautiful moonlit night. He was listening to a deep and sonorous voice that was issuing forth from this magical tree. He was having a new sensation and it felt good. The night suddenly dissolved into dawn and he saw the sun rising over a river. A log was floating along with the river current close to the shore.

He woke up early next morning, puzzled and apprehensive. It was still some time till dawn. He went down to the river bank for a drink. Just then, a red sun peeped out and spread its crimson rays on the gloomy waters of the river. Out of the corner of his eyes, he spotted a log floating uncertainly near the edge of the shore. He was thrilled as a feeling of deja-vu overtook him. He did not give a second thought and pounced upon it just as it went past him. The log sailed forth, taking him away from his familiar surroundings, into the unknown.


The log sailed for 2 days and 2 nights. The dog was assailed by hunger. And yet, he did not think much about food. He was sure that some great destiny was unfolding for him, which would change his life forever. On the afternoon of the 3rd day, the log docked itself at the edge of a forest. The dog climbed ashore. Moving through densely populated trees, he finally arrived at a clearing within the forest. There, he was thrilled to see the same tree as in his dream. He felt that the moment of enlightenment was coming closer.
As he settled down in front of the tree he spotted a green insect flitting on his side.
He called out to the insect, “Who are you and what brings you here?”
The insect replied, “I am called a Preying Mantis. I am called so as I’ve spent my life preying on other insects. But now I am growing old and strange thoughts occur to me. I feel ashamed of the way I have mercilessly hunted down and devoured prey all my life. It all seems so meaningless now. Why did it have to happen like this? Who has a hand in making my kind fierce predators? And then I had a dream.”
The dog listened to him transfixed, as the mantis recounted how he, guided in a similar fashion by a dream, had arrived at this same spot looking for answers.
As they were conversing, they spotted a furry, rat like creature emerge from the other side of the bush and approach them. He addressed them saying, “Greetings, my fellow creatures. I believe you have come here looking for answers?” Both the dog and the mantis nodded in unison, perplexed. Seeing the astonishment on their faces, the creature continued, “I am a lemming and I used to live in the Arctic Circle. What hardships we bear to survive in that climate, you cannot even imagine. Yet we have endured and are continuously growing in number, while our resources are limited. Now, we fight not only against nature, but amongst ourselves as well. No one wants to lose and the collisions turn gory. This made me think. Could there be a solution so that we can maintain unity amongst ourselves and provide for everyone. This question has been gnawing at me for some time now. Then, I had a dream”. The dog was now exhilarated. All of them, coming to the same place looking for answers could not be a mere coincidence. This was bound to have a meaning!
He was no longer paying attention to the lemming’s words. His train of thoughts was suddenly interrupted by the lemming’s following words, “But my friends, you have come in vain”
The dog started and said, “What do you mean?” The lemming continued, “I arrived here 2 days ago, but have never encountered the tree speaking. I have risked leaving my habitat, sitting in this hot weather for 2 consecutive nights, yet have not been any more enlightened than I was before. It must all be a mistake. We were fools to imagine that a tree could speak. Today is the last night I am going to wait here. Tomorrow, I will return home”
The dog and the mantis both felt their hearts sink upon hearing this. Was it all really a big mistake?


Night had fallen. But there was still no sign of the bright moon of their dreams. The sky was rather cloudy and with the frequent flashes of thunder, it looked as if it was going to storm and rain. The dog felt a sudden upsurge of emotions. He couldn’t take in the fact that after all the troubles he had taken, he would not be enlightened. In a fit of rage, he ran towards the tree, started scratching its trunk and barked, “I want my answers!”
Just then, a feeble voice issued from a hole in the trunk of the tree. “What is your problem? Why don’t you let me spend my last moments peacefully?” it said.

The other two came running towards the tree and the three of them yelled in unison, “O holy tree, you have spoken at last!”
The voice replied, “O Wretched fools, how do you expect a tree to speak? Have you lost you minds?”
The lemming was adamant “We all had similar dreams which guided us to this tree. We expected to seek answers to the questions which had been troubling us”
There was a moment of silence. And then the voice spoke again. “I see. You all have developed the faculty of thinking.” it said. “Every thinking-being goes through a phase in life when such questions arise and he becomes desperate to find answers”
“But who are you”, barked the dog. The voice replied, “All in good time. As I was saying, I have been through such a stage in my life as well. I may be able to help you all in this regard.” Hearing this, the lemming asked, “Will you answer our questions?”
The voice replied, “Yes and No. I am not a preacher. I can only tell you how I found my answers. I can share my story with you. Do you want that?”
The 3 of them nodded in unison.
The voice continued, “Then listen carefully. I am an ant and I have lived longer than anyone of my race”


“I hatched from a larva a very long time ago, longer than you can imagine. In the beginning, I was like a million other workers, helping to feed the queen and the young ones. Since birth, everyone sensed that I was a bit different. I asked a lot of questions, much to the displeasure of the others. I didn’t know what my problem was, but somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to accept a monotonous lifestyle like others of my colony did. Day by day, this way of life seemed more of a compulsion to me. It was around that time that I started observing the humans. Our colony was situated at a place very close to their colony.”
“Humans? What are these creatures?” the dog inquired.
“Oh! You are not acquainted with them, I suppose. Humans are the most fascinating creatures I’ve ever seen. They are huge in size and are possessed with high levels of intellect.
 It was these humans that interested me tremendously. I would observe them closely, often eavesdropping on their conversations. You must be wondering what it was that drew me to them. Well, the first thing which I noticed about them was something in stark contrast to us. They indulged in a lot of things which were not at all necessary for living. They wrote poetry, they sang, they drew, and they sculpted. At first, I could not comprehend any of this. But I gradually realized that these were things that gave them immense pleasure, precisely because they were not a necessity. They found meaning in this apparent meaninglessness!
Another major characteristic which I noticed in them was the faculty of thinking. They wanted to find a meaning in everything. They set up questions and sought their answers. This aspect of their nature resonated with me. It was only instinct and chemical signals that drove all the other ants, but I had somehow developed the faculty of thinking. So how could I accept everything without questioning?
For instance, why do ants have to spend all their lives doing only the necessary? We hatch from larvae, serve as workers or soldiers, take care of our queen. When the monsoons approach and we start growing fragile wings, we can sense that our end is near. But we cannot do, rather, do not do anything about it. And one day, the time comes for us to fly to a new nest. We take off, knowing that only the queen and a select few drones would reach the destination. All the others would lose their wings, fall to the ground and die. The whole prospect seemed absurd. I thought, why can’t we choose not to fly? Why didn’t someone think of this simple alternative?
In the end, I made up my mind. I would not be like the rest. I would live and see the world.”

“But haven’t you ever wondered why things are the way they are?” interjected the mantis.

The ant replied, “Yes, I have, often. In fact, this is one of the greatest quests of the humans themselves. They are divided in their opinions on this (as about any other thing - thinking, and not instincts, enable that). Some say that there is a supreme being who controls everything that happens in this world. They use the term ‘God’ for this being.  Others say that there is no God and that everything that happens is a pure interplay of events and possibilities. I have never been able to decide between the two. If you consider my choice to avoid a voluntary death at an early age, it was my own free will. But if there is a God, it could as well be his will that I be different from the rest and follow a different destiny. Who knows?

But let me come back to my story.

When the time came, I developed wings like the rest of them. But on the morning that we were supposed to fly, I quietly slipped away from my colony and started on the path laid down by destiny (or my own free will, whatever you call it). I had no use of my wings. I traveled on foot.

Since then, I have traveled far and wide, seen a lot of things. Not all of them have been pleasant. I have seen the humans, whom I revered so much; engage in battles driven by pure greed, being cruel to each other. I have also seen saints and thinkers who wanted to make the world a better place to live. This duality disillusioned me. I realized that thinking and free will can be as menacing as it can be benevolent. However, those are indispensable qualities. So it ultimately boils down to how one uses them. In the end, it is this choice which makes them virtuous or fiend.

Throughout my journeys, I often came across other ant colonies. They generally shunned me. I was something they had never seen, were afraid of. This saddened me and often made me wonder whether it was right to become so alienated from my own brethren. But then, I would visualize a life within bounds, restricted to the knowledge of all that you need to know in order to survive and nothing more; a life that would end with that limited knowledge. That thought suffocated me. You see, thinking had not made me afraid of death, it had made me afraid of dying with so less knowledge.

But now, I have lived far too long and have learned all I had wanted to learn. I am content. Now I can face death as an old friend whom I have eluded for long. That is what I am about to do tonight. I am about to fly!
Goodbye my friends. It was nice to tell you of my experiences. Hope you make the best out of your lives.”

It had started raining. The ant emerged from the hole of the tree and the three of them could finally see this creature, old with fragile wings, yet shining with the light of knowledge and contentment.
The lemming cried out, “Wait, I don’t understand. Should ants die with their limited knowledge or should they diverge from tradition and follow in your footsteps?”
The old ant smiled gently, “Haven’t you understood that yet? What an ant should do depends entirely on him, as it does with any other individual. I believe that the faculty of thought should be inculcated in every living being. It is only then that they can choose, for themselves, not only about living and dying, but also about what to do with their lives, about their free will. You see, life is what you make it out to be.”
The lemming was still adamant. “Why do we have to have such contradictory ways? Can’t there be something, which can take everything into account? Did you with your long life or the humans with their superb intellect find such a solution?”
“What you want is an absolute meaning!” the ant considered the question for a while. “There may be such a thing, but we will probably never be able to comprehend it with our limited faculties. Yet it is that quest that keeps us alive. In the process we arrive at a meaning which is entirely our own, free from the dictates of anything else. In the end, you yourself are solely responsible for giving a meaning to your existence, a meaning that would truly satiate you. As for me, I have done exactly that.”
He continued, “Off late, I have been thinking about something else. What happens to our existence, when we cease to exist? What would happen to my consciousness of ‘me’ when I pass from life to death? Would it reduce to nothingness, or would it assume a greater proportion and would fill up the universe itself? Now I am eager to explore this new mystery.
So Farewell Friends”

With these final words, the old ant flapped its wings for the very first time. He flew upwards gracefully for a while through the sheet of rain and then disappeared from their view. He had finally gone to meet death as an equal.


The dog, the mantis and the lemming were lost in their thoughts for a long time.
And when they finally awoke from their reverie, each had found his answer.  They bade farewell to one another and went out, each on his chosen path.

The lemming had decided that he had nothing to do with surplus knowledge. He reflected that even after learning so much, the ant had to die in the end and could not comprehend what difference it made in the bigger picture. And if an absolute meaning could not be found, what was the use of seeking it. He made up his mind, if he had to die it would be better to die voluntarily like the traditional ants and make way for the following generations.
He went back to the Arctic and shared his point of view with the others. He was joined by a large number of seniors, on his final journey to the ocean.
Since then, every year, a large number of lemmings race towards the sea and dive into it in mass suicide.

The mantis was very taken in by the concept of God. He inferred that if everything was God’s will, then it was also his design that all mantes kill and feed on other insects. However, he decided he must always be aware of the generosity of God in making them so sturdy, so fit to provide for and defend themselves and thank him for his kindness. And accordingly he started holding his folded forelegs upwards and joining them in prayer whenever he was not using them for hunting. He found out that this also gave him a better balance. He shared this discovery with the others of his race and the notion of praying was unanimously accepted by most of them
Since then, these creatures have come to be known as Praying Mantis (with an ‘a’ in place of an ‘e’).

The wild dog was fascinated by all that he had learnt about the humans. He decided that his life’s purpose was to be in the proximity of these intelligent beings, who would understand his worth. And likewise, off he went in search of them. After a long journey, he finally came to a human settlement and was accepted into their shelter. He found out that he could learn to understand the humans’ gestures very well and in a short time became immensely useful to them. In return the humans adored him, fed him and caressed him lovingly. Once, he took leave from them and went back to his pack. He narrated his experiences and convinced some of the other dogs to come back with him to the human settlement. A permanent bond of friendship was established between the dogs and humans. Their descendants gave rise to a new breed of dogs that could be domesticated and came to be known as ‘Man’s Best Friend’

So, that was how the domestic dog, the praying mantis and the lemming came to be the way we know them. But, had it been any other way, would that really have made any difference?

Author’s Note: This is an allegorical tale and I would request my readers to view it from a metaphorical standpoint rather than a scientific one. The mass suicide of lemmings and the connection of ants’ wings with their death are myths and not scientific facts. There is debate even on the fact whether domestic dogs evolved from wild dogs, or from a species of grey wolf. However, if I had taken all this into account, I would never have been able to write this story.
This also serves as my tribute to Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre, whose philosophies of absurdism and existentialism respectively have had a profound impact on me. Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my friend and ex colleague Anupriya Biswas(Roy), who has taken out time from her busy schedule to go through each and every story and give her valuable suggestions, correcting grammatical and constructional errors(especially with dialogs) and often making me rewrite certain parts of the text, thereby making it more viable. None of these 3 stories would have been possible without her support. Hope to keep this collaboration intact in future.