RESPONSIBILITY, LITERATURE AND SWING MUSIC

I read poems and all of them are melancholy. That’s what poets appreciate, a dark side, some depth. Anything happy is dismissed as amateur. This makes sense to me now. I understand why a dark sense of humour, sarcasm, irony are more polished than slapstick comedy. It all makes sense today as I am stuck in the middle of a book, unable to go further because¬† my head is spinning with questions and I have an urgent need to listen to swing music. Not the kind you dance to, the Louis Armstrong kind, which facilitates brooding. And I am brooding, feeling extremely smart and learned as I write this. Gracious, and sophisticated.

The more you read and the more you find out, the more questions you have. It is rightly said ignorance is bliss, because the other end of the spectrum is sleepless nights because you are holding on to a thought that does not even directly affect you. ‘Not me perhaps, but I am part of something greater than myself, something beyond myself. Do I have some duty to it? Of course I do.’

You wake up, sure of yourself and your responsibility. But the next day no one else has changed. There is no revolution taking place. There are people with notes in their hands and placements on their minds. I talk in the context of my life now, but don’t get me wrong. This can be extended to people just wanting to casually hang out, continue with their lives, work nine to five. There is nothing wrong with that, it is their immediate responsibility, something they are acutely aware of – the consequences of which affect them here and now, in a visible way. Things far away can wait.

I get pulled down because I cannot afford to be left behind. If I cannot look after myself, how can I possibly think of looking beyond? So what if there was a missile fired and a big meeting of the heads of states or a major development in science. It just depresses me how everyone is a cog in the wheel, even the biggest of people in the world. How the wheel cannot go in the desired direction no matter how much everybody understands it is for the good. In a war between good an immediate the immediate always wins.

How can one be cheerful in the midst of this? And once you escalate your concerns to this level, you will never be cheerful again. Is that bad? No, it is necessary.

The Street I Owned

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Somehow walking alone on a chilly evening in Delhi has an irresistible charm to it, unmatched even by the prospect of the company of a lover. The slightly smoky night stirs the brain into restless excitement of your own person. I feel like I own the streets. Walking back home in a black Disneyland hoodie, the sleeves pulled up a little, one hand in the pocket and another swinging freely. Walking with a bounce in each step. Actually laughing at some joke I remembered. Suddenly conscious of how stupid I might look to others, but then laughing that thought off. The others? I own this street!

I did feel certain inquiring glances pass my way. I looked too geeky to have any unwanted admirers. The gazes just made me laugh harder. I saw them through glazed eyes, as a king would do, noticing but not too nicely.

And suddenly this car goes by, playing a tune so mellow it stuck. Then I started humming it all along. Closing my eyes for brief moments, as much as I dared so as not to get hit by a car. Humming and playing with my hair as the tune from Shah Rukh’s movie woke the romanticist in me.

I crossed so many people, but no one was as enchanting as the soul that was connected to my mind. It was happy despite all the pressures and tests. A child played his ball and accidentally hit me slightly on the arm with it, I smiled at the little girl who looked at me, clinching her face apologetically, without breaking my stride.

Then I reached home, realized that I do not own anything. That the illusion of a higher living was limited to the moments I was alone. Not here, not in this place where everything was planned and decided for me, not by me. But these few moments of respite were enough to live upon.

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