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Siddharth Shankaran 1
Short Stories

Siddharth Shankaran 2
Enroute redemption


"If there is any chance of doing it, its now. Come! Take a jump! This will be the last jump you will ever
need." He stirred. Squirmed. Gave a ponderous look around, and then he laid back. How could he? No!
No! Its just not so. Its not right. I am out of my mind right now! Gimme some time, to get back normal.
Fantasy shall not override reality. Oh! But I cannot, I can't think straight, damage is irreparably done. But
I still hesitate to take the plunge. Oh! All the pain, fear, pangs of separation. I cannot bear it all, my
conscience is too weak for that. Let me try to be sedate. To sleep. To pass this time away, this wretched
time, this pernicious time, this time which has stolen my sense of earthiness. Oh no! I know, there is no
time. Time is just a frame in my mind. But don't embarrass me of my own idea. Its only an idea, its not
me. I am different. I am wretched, I am weak, and I am human. Oh no! I know, Human is all, he is power,
he is creator and destroyer, he is wretched, but not without ideas. Even if all of humanity were to stand
up, right in front of me and grovel, to give myself up, I wont, yet I, for myself, am so ready to give up,
because I am losing to my own self. Man is power, but he is powerlessness to himself. Power to itself is not
power. Its nothing. I am nothing. Oh no! What am I talking! Its all nonsense, I am a nonsense.

But, to hell with that, leave me alone, let me get lost in my dreams, let me shut my sense of thinking, so
that I can pass off. So that I can awake with a pristine mind, unmutilated, uncorrupted. But how can I
stop my mind from thinking? I'll fornicate, yeah, I'll fornicate this wretched creature. It will ease my
brains. It will rush soothing hormones to my mind. But, wait! Oh no! I cant do that. That lady is not my
wife. How can I copulate with her? Its out of social ethics, out of the edicts of society I live in. Its not my
way. Yes... I know. The social norms don't necessarily know what her and my wants are, and impose it on
us to be chaste. I wont. But no! That would tantamount to following you! I am not ready for it. I am not
in my right mind for it. But yes, off course, I can follow you; its my own idea, my own parallel universe,
and my own progeny. Wait... I ca..... And he passed out.

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All around him, filth and misery loomed large. But he was oblivious of it. He was lost. Lost in transition or
in translation. There were men around him, giving a scorn to this wretched creature lying on filth. The
market of socials, criminals, chaste and lecherous gathered around to take a look. He looked strange,
animal like, yet human! But they eventually got bored and left the place. It must have been long since he
laid there. So long that, the street dogs and vultures, the ones that are always in search of a dead soul,
presumed him to be dead and created a gathering around. But none moved forward. As evening drew, so
did the clouds in the heaven above. It became as dark, as the six months of the dark nights on the pole
had dawned all together. But all lay in wait. And so did him. Through the corner of his eye, he looked at
the gathering around him. They perhaps were better than all others. And with an assuming nonchalance
he got up, as if the entire carnivorous flock around him were his subjects and had looked after him for so
long as he was lost.

Heading nowhere, he chanced to observe an unnatural quietness, while the natural downpour drenched
him. He kept on walking, unaffected by the rain. It served to wash all the filth off his stout body. Suddenly,
he took a look around; something further strange had caught his attention. At a furlong's distance a
middle aged person, in tatters was feeding a baby. In this desolated neighborhood, at this time of night,
he was surprised to find her there. He hesitated to accost her, but feeling that he could help, he went

The lady, though in tatters, didn't appear to be a wretched woman. The baby, lying in her bosom, was
trying to suck milk from her breasts, which it was unable to do. He stopped in front, hunched and took a
deep look at the lady. She shrugged, shuddered back and gave an admonishing look to him. But then, she
looked in his eyes, and he in hers, and she eased. Something transpired between them without words and
she passed on the baby in his arms. With a tacit understanding, both got up and started walking together
in that rain. Her breasts were still uncovered, but she didn't bother. The baby kept on crying.

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Holding baby in one hand, he took out a key from his pocket, opened the door to the room and both
moved in. He switched on the heater and put off his wet and stanching clothes. So did she. And then she
wrapped her svelte body around with a sheet lying around. Taking a bottle of milk from the refrigerator,
she put the milks bottle near the baby's mouth. Its cries had gone mild, out of tiredness, and on finding
food at the tip of lip, it sucked it with greed of a child. She fed the baby, and cosseted it in her arms.
Having the food and warmth, for what else a baby wants, it eased and slept. Putting her on the bed, she
scampered around for clothes to wear.

He motioned her towards an almirah, where the garments lay. He had warmed himself meanwhile, in the
heat of stove, and of the wine. As she was putting clothes on, he fixedly watched her with a persistent
gaze at her eyes. It was dark and grey around. Rain had washed all the makeup that she must have had
worn, for there were stains of it. She got herself in his clothes and came and sat by the side of the baby.
He got up and came close to her.

"It is not your baby. I can say that for sure, but as for your disposition I have some apprehension that you
do not belong to the streets. I know, why you must have cared for that baby, but I dont know who you
are?" He placed the question to her with the calm of an old king talking to his young daughter. She drew
her lips together, brought her dripping hair forward and uttered."

"You are right on both accounts. Providence hath had it ensured that I do not belong to the streets, nor
does the child lying here, has been given begotten by me. But do you really need to know the other crass
details? So long as we are similar, social standing and professional stature shouldn't matter. What
transpires between us, and what originates from us is what we need." Saying that, she slipped onto the
bed, by the side of the baby.

He, to some extent knew the answer, and wasn't surprised with her candidness. Rather, he stood, and
moved on to the window. It was still raining heavily, and streets in front lay as desolate as ever. For few

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moments he kept on staring at those arrows of drops. The way these drops, traveled with an
insurmountable zeal and pierced the pool of water, and thus creating wreaths of ripples, that none lasted
for more than a fraction of moment. In this small fraction of time, it was both created and dissolved. If
one were to ignore this fractionability of time, there would be no creation or destruction. As if nothing had
ever happened. Was she to be such a thing in his life? Fading tomorrow, as if she had never appeared? It
was a preposterous thought however, just as many other are.

Sleep was not in his eyes, nor was the night itself sleepy. It was about to give birth to dawn, to reassert
the myth of a new day. What after all did a new day mean, flashing off and on of sun? It meant something
else, something more, and something that he alone understood for the moment.

After an hour, rain had let up in its strength; sun rays expressed their wish to brighten the land amidst the
tenuous sheet of drizzle. It was shadowy outside. He got up, took another deep look at the lady. She was
in deep sleep, and so was the baby, nestled in her arms.
He dressed himself up, and moved towards the door. Willing to take another look he looked over his
shoulders, but he dropped the idea and rushed out of the room. Silently closing the gate behind him he
left out on the street.

The street was flooded, and desolate as last night. Light drizzle wafted together with the tempestuous
breeze. He too must waft now, and with some muddled thoughts in his mind, he left the roads of city, only
to never comeback.


The city precinct wasnt too far and after walking a few miles, he was out of the city. Rain had stopped
altogether now, paving way for an imminent, clear sunrise. Despite of all that he had been through, he
wasnt tired. Yet, the quietude around him, made him feel sick. Solitude is bliss, but loneliness is wearied.
With divided mind he wished that he met someone around. Yet, not a soul appeared to be present, till the
distance he could see.

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Wearily, he flopped on the roadside. Pulling himself backwards, supporting himself on his two hands, he
got lost in the surroundings. Something surreal caught his attention. Mother earth was to deliver a baby
ball of fire, to humans to animals, to everyone. Soon, all the land were to be reddened by the blood of the
pregnant mother. Just the way he was begotten. Some thirty years back. He was told by his mother, that
he didnt cry, but made her cry a lot. She got nine stitches post delivery. But nor did he laugh, so as to
portent any greatness in lifetime, just quiet, whimpering periodically. He wasnt born for the purpose of
others, or for his big family. The sense of belongingness was alien to him.

As he grew, the shell grew tighter and tighter, and he drew in closer to himself. His primary interests were
thoughts. And his favorite word, why. Even at the age, when he couldnt spell himself, he asked why.
This appropriated seriousness served to make him older and quieter. At studies, he was good in science,
for it offered him answers to his why to considerable extent. And the point, where science would begin
to dither, he stored the questions for some future time of his life. He did get answers, but it came with
more questions. But that is to come later.

Naturally he had very few friends, and towards them as well he had no sense of attachment. With the
growing age, the dissimilarity of the assumed and the actual world troubled him beyond bounds. Poverty,
hypocrisy, cruelty and inequality kept on pouring the Ganga of whys to him. There was no answer, no
solution, no way out. And with time he had begun to hate this world.

But then, as in all stories, for worse or best, as perceived, something seminal was set to happen.
Frustration is the seed of love. Until a man has grown sick enough of the worldliness around him, he isnt
ready for that unearthly emotion, of love. For the first time since his birth, he felt that he was reborn. As
if, everything that he had all along known, was so little, as if all of a sudden the worlds entire secret was
known to him.

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Suddenly, beauty seemed so ubiquitous. In the flowers, in the stars and moons, in the rain, in the songs,
in the breeze, in solitude, in every relation. In every thing that he could perceive, he felt beauty and the
urge to belong to it. Whiff of first love, had transformed his world. But who was her, at the center of it all?

It had all started one day, while talking to her, he realized, he might be in love. Putting aside all the
shyness, he decided to write it all to her. It ran the risk of impropriety, yet, when does madness think of
anything as proper. At the end of the letter, he wrote, You may not be able to requite my love, and yet
that is okay. It may have been better to let things go on; yet, I could never have known it, until I would
have told you. If refusal and pain is what follows after this, it would be too cheap a price to pay. He had
underestimated something.

It was getting hotter now. Sun had reared up to the center of the panorama. He got up, and again took a
look around. Why all of a sudden the world has become so empty? He tried recalling, what had happened
to him, but to no avail. And as if in a flash, he got ready to walk alone and he set out on the desolate way
ahead. After walking for some mile, he realized that he felt happy. As if all of a sudden, the happiness of
entire world had dawned upon him. He couldnt help smiling. This sudden bout of happiness seemed to be
drowning him.


And then it vanished, just like those ripples last night, as if it never had been there. He realized suddenly
what he had been doing since last night. He was inebriated with his own ideals, and perhaps in his own fit
of realization he had overwrought himself. It wasn't strange for him to wallow in this dialectic with himself,
but yesterday, he had given up. He gave up all that he had created, all that he had clung to, all that he
had borne till then.

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Yet, now, he felt repentant. He couldn't believe that he had destroyed and forsaken all that he had. How
was it that he was so sure of it? Where had been his senses wandering? He felt like running back to his
house this moment and goes on as if nothing had happened. But, how could he do that, all of them had
witnessed his fall, which he had so graciously chosen. How was he to face them? And if he has so
gracefully fallen, why this gracelessness in going ahead? He groveled on the ground to beg mercy from
god, but he realized he no longer had one. The anxiety of being as well as unbeing took hold of him, and
the world around him appeared to close in on him. How small, how centric it is, swooping in him, in this
fraction of time.

"People live by their individual myths, and all have it different from others. Now the interesting part is to
realize that, it is what defines life. So long as, for a person, his life is defined and in sync with his myth, he
will adjust accordingly, in view of a greater aim, however once that view gets destroyed; he cannot easily
gain himself back. My pursuit thus is not something that would be supposed to be true, for it establishes
the existence of false, but rather something, which is apriori, something that need not be corroborated by
experience. And yet be the defining element whatever we perceive around us.
I may not succeed in chasing it in my life, but how do I accept that our myth of life is the supreme. So I
keep on, traveling the sinuous ways laid by knowledge and let my heart believe." He recalled these words,
which he himself had written, before taking the plunge, and yet, now, it seemed to him nothing more than
a mistaken thought.

Dejected and enervated with his dilemmas he flopped on the ground. All was lost, he thought. So quiet
was he and the quietude all around him that he could hear his breath as it rolled in and out of him in deep
sighs and bellows. Surroundings had become hotter now and wind was blowing harder. A drift of dried
leaves and wastes circulated around his legs . So intricate and meticulous was the arrangement that he
got lost into it. To create this , leaves had dried and then been carried together by the wind ,
accompanying some bits of wastes on the way and now kept together in a loop. At any moment they
appeared to move out but none did and all swirled and wallowed in that afternoon sun. They were all adrift
by the wind yet keeping together. How insignificant was this to him, yet he couldn't help but marvel at it.
He had seen it many a times before, but could never have had associated himself with its intricacy. But he

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did now. May be man needs to descend and dry out before could appreciate the beauty and order around
him, and sadly they never do, unless they are forced to let go.

He had struggled enough to let go his love. It was not to happen and it didnt. How could he have had let
go of that so easily. His myth had been challenged. But, since he existed, as he failed to obliterate himself,
he had to reorder his myth. Perhaps the separation drove him madder than what love had done. His view
of world changed to that of a cynical one. How insignificantly had he estimated the power of pain in his
letter to her! Maybe the pain had a covert purpose, to bring him down and grovel for death. To make him
realize that pain was much bigger, much harder, and much fearsome than death. And it did kill him, not
his physical self although.

"What's the Point after all? was what he started to believe in. It was a shock, but it did instill in him a
quest. A quest of truth, self and world. All were elusive but he couldn't care any less for that. And it was
perhaps the same quest that had driven him to the present state.

Finally, he could muster strength to trudge the infinite way ahead. Perhaps, the little thoughtlessness had
invigorated him. However, he must have had hardly taken few steps, when he heard the grating sound of
a bullock cart, approaching him from behind.


When she woke up, it was almost daybreak. She was tired, but the sleep had helped invigorate her a bit.
The baby was still sleeping by her side. She felt its breath on her fingers and sighed. She looked around
for him in a hazy glance, and then lay back on bed once again.
Last night was momentous, yet she didn't feel like recalling the events. The baby, whose fate has been
tied to hers, where shall she be taken, yet, she couldn't help recalling who she was. She was famous in
this town, someone whom men desired to fulfill their senses. Someone, in front of whom men's heart felt
impossible not to flutter, but the night gone was the night of redemption. As if the day of reckoning had
dawned on her, and at the pitch of a toss she had thrown all that she had. She cannot be any long in this

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town. She will have to move out before others could spot her. Her mind had started racing.
But where was he, her benefactor? She would better avoid him, she thought. Not because he hated that,
but she felt unsure about his temperament. And baby, where was she to go? And then, as if all her
answers had arrived to her in a go she rushed out of bed, ready to depart.

She got up determined, moving furtively. Determination of a woman. It differs remarkably from men. A
woman is the unit of human social life, just as Newton is of force, if you wish. Man is bestial in nature and
has been only tamed by the existential nature of women. She plants the seed of family, and it's by her
sheer selfishness and cunning for its family that family exists. This is the kind of determination that a
woman possesses, to exist, despite all odds. But this is not very true of men. If not for woman's
existential will, world would have been a disaster.

She was ready to leave, determined to leave everything behind. On the way out she found the roads
desolate in the early hours. She paced hard walking surreptitiously. She had donned a hooded jacket of his
and hid the baby in her bosom.

As she was leaving, noise of a rutting cart approached her ears from behind. She stopped, reckoned the
situation and turned behind.


"You appear to be lost. Where do you think you want to go? the old man asked him. But he, sitting by his
side kept looking in the oblivion. "You seem to me to be the affected one, the kind, lost in it. I know where
I am heading to, but you seem lost, even with me, and that's a rarity. the old driver remarked with smirk
sprawled over his face.

He didn't bother to take note of those words, yet out of irritation he blurted, I am of the kind who has
just left everything behind himself, at the instigation of a reasoning mind which wallowed in rationality and

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failed to take practicability into account. And now, when I have debased myself and failed at the
application of my own thoughts, I do not see any merit in it. I can't see people around, I can't go back to
my old world, and most sadly, I can't think practical any more. Of your help, I am grateful, yet I would
wish not to be lectured by some moronic cart driver."

The old man chuckled, Ah! You see. Of all the persons in the world you seem to need me the most now,
although you don't know it. Go ahead and spew all your anger on me, on my oxen and on this world .I am
sure you would want to do that"

He didn't speak. His state was that of an anxious devil, not having the capacity and grit to stay in any one.
As if his throat has been half slit by the dagger, yet, he couldn't decide whether to throw it off or bear the
pain. He started banging his fist on the cart, with violent blows and then fell into sobs. "Why me? Why do
I have to be the one who has to bear all of this? I was going along with my life, with a fragile yet unbroken
order, why was that broken? In a fit of idealism, I have pitched and tossed everything that I had. Honor,
relations, money. I had been a dedicated human, dedicated to course of life, submitting to all the
inconsistencies and getting along with it, although with a tumultuous and treacherous soul inside that kept
tottering on the brinks of sanity. It was suppressed, and contained in a tin of consistency by me, but last
night, it went over my head. I threw aside all that I had, all of it."

He became silent, and driver stopped the cart. It had become all very quiet, suddenly, his breath in violent
gust was the only sound audible accompanied by the sporadic tinkle of cow bells. He raised his head,
gazing at the infinite stretch of plains ahead.

"And then, when I felt liberated, I found that there was no moral requirement to life. I wanted to prove to
myself, that morals, as we knew were just a sham, to deceive and to control. After I had destroyed all the
traces of my existence in my social life, I road up to a tavern and caroused .The liberation that I had
tasted was driving me to the extremes of pleasure. I felt joy, enormous joy, beyond my immanent
capacity. However, after some time I felt, that the more was I drinking, the thirstier I got. But, I had
decided to touch the extremes of pleasure and thus I decided to slake my thirst with corporal pleasures."

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"Nearby to the tavern dwelt a lady, most beautiful in the world, as was the word around the town. Her
beauty enmeshed the greatest of souls and ripped them apart. Yet I knew that for her beauty, she isn't
solicitous of plebeian offers. Her reach was among the aristocrats of the town. People in the town spoke of
her influential connections and the way she used them to straighten her own means. I felt my pocket
which was still bulging with the cash that I had filched, and if that were not enough to accost her, I
thought, at least I could have the whiff of her beauty for that money."

And in a few moments I was at her door. Her guards wouldn't let me in but I, inebriated and fractious,
doggedly pressed on my demands to see her, for once at least. On hearing the commotion she came up to
the door, still behind it, though, as she wouldn't show her face so easily. I knew that. I do not entertain
guests of your sort and more so, not at all at this hour", she spoke from behind the door, with anger
mixed in her mellifluous overtones.

"I am a man of honor madam. I stand for what I say. Please ask these guards to stand apart from me. I
know I am drunk, yet I know that my honor would never imagine disgracing you. I just want your
company, for some time, and if you still aren't amused I shall leave without even looking at you", Said I.
Something in my words seemed to impress her and she uttered, "Fine! Guards! leave him alone over there
and wait near the hall. Let him talk himself out to me, yet be wary, for if he raises commotion, drag him
out, instantly.

"Thanks Mam! Believe me, my sobriety isn't related to my drunkenness. I am a man of honor, although I
am drunk this moment, which in our social order isn't considered very honorable. But what is honor miss?
Goodness and badness? Do they drive it? But there is no good or bad. I have known it all along and I
know many of them know this maxim, yet few seem to be willing to comply with it. But I have broken
those shackles, miss, forgive me! But why do you consider your own position as honorable, although the
social order doesn't conform to it? You see! You yourself know it better than I do. I have broken all these
shackles and dissolved all good and bad. But it's your company, that I want, why, because I seek pleasure,
of your presence, of savoring your beauty, deceptive though it may be.

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"You seem to be affected. What has afflicted you so deeply? Sit down, and tell me all that you want to say.
I know. I have seen people like you, bursting in front of me and clearing themselves of all grief and sins.
In my presence, which they identify an epitome of sin, people feel liberated. I have liberated many of
them, but, I wouldn't allow you to sight me, until I get your story", she kept on talking from behind the
door, half open now, in order to look at me from the corner.

"No miss! You misunderstand me. I do not have a story for you. I do not have any pot of sin to break and
disperse in your sinister haven, as you consider it to be. And I know, in you too there is no sin. ", and we
kept talking like that for some time. At times, when I felt my senses back I wondered why she was
bearing my didactic tone, yet I for most of the time, kept on blabbering and she, kept on listening, like a
still mountain behind the doors. At times, my desire to sight her goaded me to open the door, but I didn't.
I didn't want to break the tranquility and love that was seeping through those impervious doors.

I kept on talking to her for a long time until it was too late in the night. And then suddenly, I felt, I no
longer needed her presence to gratify myself. The urge had gone.
"Miss! I had come with such intentions harbored, so as to wallow in your beauty, and now I feel satiated
and content even without their fulfillment. I am looking at the moon light that's dripping onto your doors
and it seems as if they have embraced me as their lover. I too feel the pleasure of mating with them. You
see miss, I told you! I am the man of honor, and I will pay you for you time spent with me. But now I have
to go. I have slaked my thirst, and with your presence so deep in these moments in my life that I cannot
pay with any coins in the world, and at the same time I realize the gold that you have hidden in your
heart. Question it, question your sins, and your morals. They are nothing more than a facade. I have
bared all in front of you now, and you know me more than anyone else, but I wouldn't wait for any more
grace from you, I have had enough, and I am content."
And then I got up, leaving the bundle of notes behind, without even waiting for her to bid me off.

It was still night, and it seemed likely to rain later in the night, although there were very sparse clouds
around that time. But as I moved out of her villa, I felt a terrible weakness in my legs and then suddenly,

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I felt a severe jolt in my head, questions loomed large on my face and then I don't remember what

He took a deep sigh and then told the rest that happened after he woke up from that filth pile.

"You appear to me to be a person in transit. Don't worry; it's all but sure to happen with you if you were
to take the leap. The first step, dangling among different choices shall be the difficult one. But I must say
that your account matches almost to the one that this other passenger of mine told me on the way. said
the old man, pulling aside the veil at the back of the cart.
"You are right to guess, old man! , though I wished you would have kept it yourself ,but now, as I find him
on his journey , still troubled , I wouldn't hide myself. I am here, tied to your destiny. She appeared from
behind the veil of the cart. With the baby, still in her arms.


He sighed and looked around. His face bore signs of confused pleasure and bewilderment. She stood there
in front of him, with the baby still cradled in her arms. It was not hers, off course, but how did that
matter. She was joined to its fate, for now and maybe forever. The child too seemed to have had accepted
her as its mother.

And she herself, as beautiful and coy as he had imagined, stood in her eyes. But more than her corporeal
primness, something else appeared to be emanating from her, something that had no parallel in words. It
was only to be felt and dwelt in.

But why did she let go? Was he the reason for it, or was it always lying there in her, and he served to
bring it to the fore. He didn't consider the question relevant to the present scenario, yet whither now? Did
he want her or wanting her did not serve as a proper interpretation of what he felt for her. And what about

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his own dilemma? All these thoughts kept on popping belligerently over the surface of his calm

"I have not come for you", she said, in a mellowed tone. "Nor should you be considering yourself
responsible for anything. We have a mistaken tendency to relate effects to cause in a deterministic
fashion, only to be befuddled by the mistaken belief. Yet I owe you gratitude for reminding me what I
suppose I knew all along. It was nothing more than fate which brought us together, and I believe my fate
has a direction different than yours. Last night you got deep into me, deep enough to be ever rooted out,
yet, I know I cant have you .My destiny beckons me into a different direction and I shall answer its call.
But, I will love you and I will suffer for you. In loving you and suffering for you I will assert myself in this
life. When did ever love separate itself from suffering? I and my child will get down at next town. But for
you, I wish that you get over your dilemma."

He kept gazing at her, at her rosy lips that parted in such willful nonchalance as the gentle sway of petals.
Her eyes radiating the charm that cast spells on him. To her words, he didn't react. He seemed to have
gone immobile. He got fixed into her eyes, and she in his. They didn't move, nor did the eyes, just talking
to each other in their own language and caressing each other. How subtle and deep were those "words"
that transpired between them. And then his eyes were flooded with tears, for love and for suffering. He
closed his eyes and turned away. Two culverts snaked down his face and swirled down into the dust
beneath him.

A deafening silence pervaded through them and suddenly a realization dawned on him. Reinvigorated, a
joy overran his face and he jumped off the cart and ran away, without even looking behind. The old man
chuckled, I told him so ".

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Near a farmhouse sat a wizened man, carrying out his daily chores. He seemed lost in his work. Nearby
his grandson played around with cattle, running around a goat, teasing her. While chasing the goat he
found an old diary wrapped in dust around the outhouse. He picked up the diary and turned around the
shriveled and smudged pages. Having found a new object of interest he got engrossed in destroying the
new object in his hand. He tore pages, one by one and threw them up in air, rollicking with fun. Having
conquered the object he got back in his chase.

One of the pages fluttered, caught between the reticulated wooden fence. It bore writings in ink pen. It
read, I don't know why I ran away, from her, whose beauty I had so much desired. But I felt the love
within, that which was my pristine nature. I felt that all that I had gone through was just a path to attach
to that supreme, who runs through me and her. I saw that in her eyes.
I shall exist in that order of world, in which I have been rendered this form, and then shall continue in
another form. I will suffer and love, and I will connect to Him .And so shall ..." .Wind blew harder and it
broke free off the fence, to fly away to distant places, to distant people.

Siddharth Shankaran 17
A story worth not telling

Water leaked through that opening, all night. Drops gleamed in moonlight and crashed on the floor into
invisible splinters. Wind was howling outside. Knocking or rather beating on the walls. Despite of it, silence
was too deep in me. I felt like those sounds were coming from oblivion, far away from me, yet, their
presence was never out of my senses.
I was an outcast. I was sick. Diseased. And the virus lay in my mind. It refused what it found non-tenable.
It chided what it found irrational. It smirked at the certitude of rightness. All of these were part of a crime.
Thought crime.


Run! Run! Run! The precincts of Humanity village extended to far away lands. It appeared to stretch
beyond the far ends of river Serene , that flowed through the heart of the city , meandering its path
through human habitation, and deserted landscapes. I couldn't row the boat of my will on this endless
stream. The boat of my will cannot cross its realms. Its too weak for it. I looked for land stretches, ones,
that were different from this land, this place where I have been born and in all probability was destined to
die. It didn't matter, whether I died here or not. What mattered was, until I die, where I was, what I was,
who I was with. Tremors of blood gushing through my veins could be felt by my brain. It was beating
hard, very hard. To the point, that all you would expect next moment was that it would explode the next


Siddharth Shankaran 18

"There are many gods that we worship. Some, we never see in our life, but some of them stand in front of
us, in flesh and blood, in spirit and body. What's the worth of my life? It lies in my duty . My duty to be
subservient to my benefactor, my savior, my Man. To live in his order and die in his arms. Nay, there is no
love between us. But, it never is the requirement for my subservience to you or for your ownership of me.
The vicissitudes of life makes all souls realize that love is neither a moment, nor a prerogative. It just
becomes of us. Please take me with you! Lady Virgin was fervent in her submission of self to my
authority. Did I ask for it? Do I seek it? I could have had her presence in my lascivious wants. Into my
carnal desires. But that, yearning was lost now. What mattered to me was her individuality. My saving her
was not contingent upon her submission to me. My act of rebellion had its root in respect for human, and
in realizing my own humanity. But, how could I accept her subservience, blind submission. The hope, with
which I had fought on her behalf, was betrayed by her request. I refused blankly. I can't own you. In
essence, who could own anyone? I cant consider an object out of lady Virgin, whose virginity and loyalty
shall be under my command. Lady Virgin! You are free, independent. Realize it and fly.
But she refused to realize her own sense. She did "refuse" it, but it was a refusal of her subservient sense.
Of a sense, that trampled her self with pride. Tears welled up in her eyes. Sobbing at gaps, she uttered
the following words. "My sense of self, relates to your presence. Once a woman surrenders her soul to a
man, its the man in which her self lies. In this worldly structure of society, a woman has been the
progenitor of Man's child. She has been the means to an end, the gratification of man. Man's sense of
world arrived from our wombs. All the generators of world, were generated through us, though the seeds
of another generator, my man. In this circle of man to man, knowledge to knowledge, we have always
been the means. Men and thus humanity's progress would have held up if Man never thought, and we
always let them think. We rested our faith and order on them." Even the act of your coming to my rescue
from the hands of those jackals of Humanity, is a proof of your capacity to be my Man. I, the women, am
the facilitator of your journey. Of your hardships and pleasures. Of being the fertile land for your seed of
progeny. You are my Hero. A hero is Man and Man is a hero. But to each of us there is a Hero. There are
men and there is a Man. A Heroic Man. He is the mover of this world. The motor that moves the world."
Her face, wet with tears and dark strains of Kaajal was beaming with pride now. A pride of finding her

Siddharth Shankaran 19
hero. A pride of finding a Man to be subservient to, of finding her aim of life. She came forward and clung
to my shoulders. Took her hand at the back of my head and pressed her lips against mine. I, her Hero,
was trembling, at her thought, at the fruitlessness of my act to rescue her few days back. But, now my
carnal desires numbed my brains. And I fornicated Lady Virgin, ate her self.
But, I couldn't hold her long. I threw her away. "I didn't rescue you to make a mockery of humanity. The
very premise on which my acts were based has been not understood by you. In all essence, I am no
master, nor a slave. An independent soul, I am. I am a human searching for ways to be back one with
void. But, to this world, I would create and provide, and continue so, in my next form as well. I cant
accept a leach to suck the blood of Man. And its that what I find in your tendency to be subservient. I
thundered. She was shaken. Lady virgin, out of shame, woke up the land, half naked. Her helpless body
sought an end, an end in transition to this thought. Her body, broken by the act of fornication, was wilting
away. She had given up. She jumped into the abyss, and I couldn't stop her. I ran.
Run! Run! Run!

Siddharth Shankaran 20
A farewell of its kind

"I'm leaving alone for the journey. Babu, will board me on the way at his station, and I'll leave from
there. My Grandpa declared. How can you go alone? You aren't strong enough to travel alone to such
places. Moreover one of us could come with you to assist you. Once the medical checkup is done, you'll be
in better condition. Though they pleaded, my grandpa was adamant on his decision. He wanted to leave
alone. I knew for sure, if he leaves he is not coming back, and I guess all of us knew. Good riddance,
many thought.

It was still two days before I was supposed to go with him and leave him to the nearest station. I was up
on building's roof, contemplating my childhood, its delicacies and mist shrouded memories. Suddenly there
was a vibration in one of the creeper plant and I looked down below for the reason. Grandpa was cutting
that out. Why? I shouted at the top of my voice, to be audible to him, Why are you cutting this up?". He
smiled, but didn't reply. He went ahead with his sturdy blows on the stems of the plant. I remember this
plant since I was born. It had always been there. I used to hide behind it to read my comics or to eat
some stolen delicacies. All along, I had seen how much grandpa cared for it. He watered it daily and
nurtured it with great love and care. But now he was cutting it up. May be he didn't want to leave behind
his trace. It was cruel on his part though.

There used to be a house beside my grandpa's house, but I suddenly I realized that its been bulldozed.
We used to play hide and seek inside that house. And sometimes the game of number of hidden lines.
What was this game? Ah! I vaguely remember it. Each party was allocated its area in the house and they
were to draw lines in those regions in surreptitious spots. Now after a stipulated time, when each party
got exhausted of drawing lines at unimaginable locations, each party would search for others lines and
each searched line would be crossed. The party that had most uncrossed lines won.

Siddharth Shankaran 21
It was a slow game but very innovative, especially in selecting the spots where the lines were drawn. But I
find that house non-existent in front of me now. "Where is that house gone? I shouted from the roof to
Grandpa. He was busy cutting the plant, however, he glanced up at me and still said nothing.

That house belonged to Dasrath Mishra,who supposedly was 10 brothers and he being last one was named
so. Two of his other brothers were in the same colony and I used to play with their sons. I used to hate
him ,mostly because, I had to fetch him water from hand pump , each time he came, and he came twice
or thrice in a day. And moreover, his thirst never slaked with one glass of water. How big his tummy was!
In order to wheedle me to get water for him, he used to say, "Whenever you bring the water for me, it
tastes sweet". I knew he was flattering me, but he repeated this every time and thus once I thought may
be there was truth in it. So once I consciously brought water from hand pump and instead of giving it to
him, drank myself, it wasn't sweet. But next day he reported again that it was sweet. Hmm! I know now
where the sweetness was. I heard few years back that he is dead! How all of a sudden that tummy
vanished in thin air, taking with it all the mugs of water that I brought for him, although sulkily. That
house in front was obliterated from the landscape and I kept on staring at that barren spot. How some
things get wiped out of existence, but never from thoughts.

Suddenly there was loud noise of something falling. The creeper had given away. And besides that my
grandpa stood, with sickle in his hand and without any emotion on his face. He was obstinate.

Next day, was a bright Sunday and all of us were together at home. It was fun. We gossiped, bantered,
played around. But my grandpa was silent. He kept looking in the infinity, to the road ahead. I looked into
his eyes, they were misty, but not watery, the water inside must have had dried up. The lines that ran
through his face marked the years traversed by him. It was long, long, and long back since I was in his
arms, pissing or may be defecating at times. I don't remember him ever wincing at me for the same, with
stoic indifference he used to clean up my clothes and spread them out. My mom hated me for this, but my
grandpa took over this task from her. I wished he would look at me now; he did, but flipped back with
same speed.

Siddharth Shankaran 22
Today we were supposed to leave. He would go to places of his liking, and I was supposed to leave him at
a station around the town where I lived. He was all dressed and ready to go. He looked extraordinarily
cheerful, the same, as if he was going for his first journey. I thought it was his first journey; it would be
his last as well. He was not coming back. After the usual show of tears and goodbyes, we left. He didn't
even look back at the mansion that he had so fondly created and nurtured. He was looking in front.

We boarded train and took our seats. I was uncharacteristically reticent on that occasion. But he
blabbered, as if to radiate his excitement. Then all of a sudden, he got quiet, looked at me and said. "How
big you have grown up to be. I remember the time you were born, it was celebration all around, first
grandchild in our house, and I was mad with joy. I still remember washing your clothes and how your
loose motion went loose on that school bus. I still remember how much you liked rasgullas. But you have
grown up now; you have to carry on from here, taking the world in your stride and face everything on
your own. No way is your way; your way is your way. Conviction in that will see you through, and you will
grow things, create them and one day leaves them all, behind. That is how this cycle is." He had never
been never so philosophical, it was first time I heard something of that sort from his mouth. He moved
though with that philosophy and I couldn't trace it at all. How subtle is the role of philosophy in everyone's
life, unobtrusive at times, but never absent.
Anyways, I started to feel a pang of separation now. All those years of acquaintance cannot go in one
flash. But I gathered myself up and smiled. That was the best I could do for him. But I felt the need to do
more. His cash would exhaust pretty soon and then he would have nowhere to ask for it. He wasn't taking
any mobile phone with him as well. I decided to slip in my debit card with its PIN into his satchel and
furtively did it. He would be safe with that.

We reached onto the station and I was supposed to board him into the next train and leave for my home. I
didn't feel like doing it however. The pain was now welling up in eyes as well. How all of a sudden the
acquaintance of years was to get blank in a flash. It seemed impossible to me. But he didn't have any sign
of melancholy on his face, as if he has found a treasure and was perpetually content now. Reluctantly I
helped him board next train and came out. He stood at the gate of the bogey. The figure frail yet
determined. Old yet ungiving, hands trembling yet grasping firmly. I touched his foot for the last time, and

Siddharth Shankaran 23
as I touched it in entirety, something unexplained flowed from those feet and I covered it with all
reverence. Train whistled and signaled its intention to leave , I started crying loudly now, at which he held
my face up, and shouted, "Be bold, firm, and fear none", and placed his gentle hands on my head . And
as the train was about to leave he handed me a bag. A gift for me, perhaps.

And the train left and with it, took him as well. He was non-existent now, I would never see him again, but
I was to be bold and I washed up my tears. Its the rule of world maybe. I remembered the bag he had
given to me. I couldn't wait to see my gift. Things that he had left for me were my ATM card with its PIN,
and along with it a 500 rs. Note that he had left for me to eat rasogullas and flood of tears in my eyes.

Siddharth Shankaran 24

It was power cut once again."Jattan! It seems out phase only has blown up; no one else is at home now,
go to the main pole and get it fixed now. Its too very hot today."

Ram Jattan, a pseudo servant serving his master, in gratitude of a government job of peon arranged by
his master, ten years ago, was completely unaware of the process to fix that blown up phase. He though
at once of refusing but his inner self chided him at this thought. This mere idea of insolent behavior on his
part was utterly unacceptable to his self. He had seen other people fixing it by poking their stick at the
wire junction on the electricity pole, but, he had never done it himself and more so he wasn't sure if this
would work as well. However, bound by his obeisance to him he decided to give it a try. It was getting late
anyways and he had to go back to his home as early, as he had to go to railway station early morning
tomorrow to fetch his sahab's elder son.

The giant electricity pole was half a kilometer away. It housed an inconceivable mesh of wires intermingled
into each other inextricably. Fortunately it wasn't dark near the pole since others phases were working
Jattan reached near the electricity pole and was dumbfounded at the sight of the intricate mesh of wires
on the pole. How the hell would he get to know which wire he's supposed to poke at. Going back and
asking this from him was out of question. After thinking for a while and make calculated wild guesses he
smote the stick against the mesh. And lo! it became dark all around. Power of all the phases was gone.
People from surrounding houses came out cursing the government and electricity department. Finding a
boorish person standing near the pole they were intrigued and smelled something fishy. They came in
large numbers with torches and lantern in their hands and found Jattan beating incessantly against the

The heat of the summer tripped their brains and they castigated him for foolishly beating against the wires

Siddharth Shankaran 25
and having damaged their phases as well. An enraged person went ahead of the crowd and held Jattan by
his neck. Jattan was already too afraid to speak up anything and now he started to tremble with fear.
"What's the matter? Have you gone nuts? Come on guys. Lets beat him up to get his senses back! he
growled, still his holding his neck tightly. And in the next moment a deluge of blows was on Jattan.

His benefactor saw the commotion from his house and ran towards the site. Finding Jattan at the center of
embroil, he pitched in and calmed the frayed nerves of his neighbors. He explained to them that the
person was his acquaintance and had done this on his behest and has blown it all up by mistake. At this
the angry mob relaxed but scorned at him. Jattan already had had enough of beating and was badly hurt
at many places. He rose up from the ground, bearing a mutilated face and a torn Dhoti and Kurta. He had
disheveled hairs and blood was dripping of his nose. However, he was mortified by the look of shame in his
benefactor's eyes. They both walked slowly towards the house, without talking to each other, while others
got busy with getting the electric wires fixed up.

They reached home and Jattan stopped at veranda, writhing in pain of embarrassment and of the blows.
His benefactor went in. He came back with medicines and cotton and threw them at Jattan." Apply this
and go back home. You have done enough for me today. I should have had thought twice before asking a
fool like you to do a task." As he was yelling at Jattan, his 8 yr old grandson came running and stood
beside him, confused and surprised at the sight of Jattan's state.

Jattan was lost in his pain of failing to serve his benefactor. His bruises weren't hurting him more than his
own soul. He lifted his head up. Tears had welled up into his eyes, and murmured, "maafi huzur". He
couldn't speak more. He turned and left out of the gate right away, without taking medicines, and with his
head down.
His benefactor came back into his room feeling sorry for Jattan. He wasn't his paid labor, and whatever he
did was a symbol of gratitude on Jattan's part. He was lost in these thoughts when his grandson came up
to him and asked innocently, "Jattan wouldn't be coming tomorrow? Was he angry? What happened to

Siddharth Shankaran 26
He replied, "You know, ten years ago I had in my capacity to get people into government jobs. I helped
out many of them to get in. Almost all of them for whom I arranged the job got a pen and paper job, even
when they didn't deserve, however, only Jattan got a peon's job through me, and the irony is that besides
him none other beneficiaries remember me. He is the only one who bears the gratitude until now, while all
others have even forgotten me. ". He became quiet after that, apparently lost in some thoughts.

After taking a deep sigh he held his grandson in arms and said to him, "He will definitely come tomorrow!"
Just as he told this power came back. Excited at that, his grandson jumped off his arms and went away
shouting, "Power is back. Jattan repaired it!" His grandfather smiled at it and went near the TV to switch it
on, to reckon the nation's progress of the day.

Siddharth Shankaran 27

Standing tall on the boundary wall of his house he would marvel at those sounds that seemed to come
from the panorama in near distance. The view had a garden filled with assorted plants and few benches
sprawled along. He wasn't looking at them, though; he was contemplating on the source of his continuous
intrigue, "Where does that music come from after all? There didn't seem to be any inhabitants in near
sight, it just appeared to come from the oblivion.

He must find its source today; it has troubled him since many days. He had not dared to explore it earlier,
but now the pain of eagerness had tipped his bucket of fear. He must find its source today. Resolutely, he
jumped off the wall, looking furtively over the edge of wall, to ensure that no one saw him jump outside,
at this time of day, when he was supposed to be lost in his siesta, as his family members were now. He
never liked the idea of sleeping in afternoon. Its a sheer waste of time, more so, at this age.

Slowly he trotted towards his target. The sun of summer shone brightly through the ocean of sky, creating
a haze in the atmosphere. The heat of summer sun seemed to create a mirage of things around him, and
sometimes a spectacle of objects wafting in front of him. It seemed as if plants are dissolved in the air and
they are vibrating through the air. What was that plant's real state? Was it really wafting in the air, or was
it lying steadily at that distance far away? He couldn't come to a conclusion. The reality was different from
different positions. What can be considered as its real identity? And, what is the real identity of the music
that had fascinated him since so many days.

From where he listened to the music, it had the feeling of intrigue, but will this feeling stay same if I reach
there? As he trotted towards it, the source of music appeared to move farther, but increasing in its

Siddharth Shankaran 28
magnitude. What a paradox! There certainly was some intrigue hidden behind that source. As he moved
further he conjured up the time since when he has been intrigued about it. The variety of music was
eclectic. Ranging from devotional in morning to filmy in afternoon and evening. Almost on each occasion
the choice of the song concurred so well with his mood. How can there be such a source of music that
agrees so much with my mood, and that too on every occasion.

He recalled how one day , this music had lifted him up when he was lying dejected into a corner of his
room ,after having failed in his eyes. How it had lifted him up to smile and take up another step. How it
had made him dance in his thoughts on those numerous afternoons and evenings. Who would be that
person whose thought matches so much with my mood?

As he reached near to the garden, an inexplicable fear sneaked into him, slithered through his mind, and
took control of his will. He cowered with fear; fear of finding the truth; fear of loss of intrigue, fear of
unknown. However, putting them behind, he entered into the garden. As he passed through the pavement
in the garden, the sound seemed to grow larger and larger and it just felt that he was very near to his
source of intrigue. He took a glance at the benches and trees on both sides of the pavement. Benches
were desolate, but they carried a lot of warmth in them, inviting him to spare a moment or two with him.
Trees were burnt with the heat of merciless summer, but they bore the scalding and smiled with grace on
him, asking him to smile a little. They seemed to implore him to take its shade and smile and learn its
secret of life.

But he was too engrossed in his thought of discovering the source of music. Doesn't that music have effect
on them? He took another glance at them and found them as persistent as he saw them a moment before.
Inviting him to embrace them. He shrugged. He swiveled and sauntered towards the source of music.

After a few steps that he took, he found an enclosure, covered with creeper. Flowers blossomed all over its
surface. It seemed to be shrouded with a layer of sweet fragrance. But the presence of such a desolate
beauty pushed in doubts in his mind. Apprehensively he moved towards it, and opened its gate. Its gate
was sprawled with branches and leaves. It creaked, as he opened it. As he stepped in he found a tape

Siddharth Shankaran 29
recorder blaring music, the entire scene had a sense of peace and life and there were stacks of music
cassettes lying besides it. All of those which he had heard since so many days, all of them that he loved so

Ahh!! So this was it.

This was the thing, which carried in me all those emotions. It seemed at that time to come straightaway
from oblivion, but now its just a tape recorder, lying in a natural room, filled with flowers fragrances,
smell of the greenish leaves, and so much of life. Yeah, things have a different meaning when looked at
from different positions. But, it was just an another tape recorder and I thought it came from some
undefined source for me. He looked around; there was no one in that enclosure. He went ahead and took
an another deep look at the tape recorder, it was similar to the one that he had, and so was the table on
which it was kept, and the stack of cassettes too were all the same ones that he too had. He took another
look at the table; it was same to his own table. He looked around once more; all the things in this
enclosure were the same as he had. He was awestruck. How can it be so? He went ahead and opened the
drawer of the table, and lo! There was his identity card in there, bearing his name and photo. What is this?
How can it be true? He started to panic and breathe heavily. What was happening around him? Was he
dreaming? He couldn't come to any conclusion. In a frantic search he scoured all the items in the drawer,
and found all his belongings lying in there. The effect of music had started to faint and a fear was rover
powering his brain, he cowered with trepidation. He took a look around him and what does he see? The
leaves have gone yellow all of a sudden and they are falling from their branches and vanishing. The wall of
the enclosure crumbling and getting dissolved in ether, the music had gone awry, he was drenched with
fear. He could no longer hear the music, though it still appeared to blare through that tape recorder, which
was lying resolutely on that table.

In frenzy he rushed towards that gate and jumped put of the enclosure. He was cowering with fear,
trembling. What had it been? Which place had he come to? He was drenched with fear. Slowly he opened
his eyes, and lo! It was the vestibule of his house, where he was standing. Where was he? He frantically
leaped into another room and found his parents lying asleep there. Confused, he looked at his
surroundings. There was no garden around, he ran to the porch only to find that the garden was still at

Siddharth Shankaran 30
that far distance. The wide panorama was still lying there and the afternoon sun shimmered through the
sky. Everything was sleepy as it was supposed to be.

What was in my room then? He moved towards it cautiously. The door creaked. The music was still playing
on the tape recorder, and everything else was in its place. It was his own room. Was he dreaming? He
chuckled at his stupidity, and took a sigh. After wiping his face off the sweats of fear, he dried himself in
front of the fan, sitting on his couch. Sprawled on his couch, he reflected on his reverie. It was a dream!
He laughed at that whole episode. "Ah!! It was just a stupid dream!!"

He as feeling very relieved now, and he went ahead and put on his favorite music and dropped on the
couch. He was enjoying the music now, "such a peace, such a beauty, such a manifestation of soul" he
thought; just when he started to enjoy it, he felt something hard beneath his buttocks. It was the wooden
bench, the same which lied in the garden, and had implored him to spend time with him, smiling he raised
his and took a look around, it was that same enclosure again, and the same tree standing by the side of
bench, smiling, as if saying, "so u learned my secret of life, and came in my shade". He had found the
source of sound; only, it was different from different views. Chuckling at this thought, he sank into his
couch errr.. Bench.

Siddharth Shankaran 31
When I met Hitler

When sleep overtakes, mind comes into action, of altogether different kind and under some spell of its
own creation. Ideas, hope, joy, sorrow all start rushing through incoherently. But the dust settles soon and
contrived plot begins to unfold. Who created that for me? They all seem to foster their own creation, their
own growth.

I am in Berlin now, working with my friends, in the field. Its harvest time and I have managed to get a
bumper crop this year, which would be followed by bumper cash in no time. There have been several plans
chalked out for the coming harvest period. Buying a new house, new clothes for everyone and jewelries
for mother, which she had to sell out last year due to drought. There were hardships nevertheless at
present, torn clothes, leaking roof, yet as we were together, it didn't smite us strongly enough. My brother
was lying in the arms of my mother; he was just too beautiful a baby. Large bubbly eyes, dark eyelashes,
lanky fingers. While I was lost in the prospect of a beautiful future, heavy roar raised in the near distance.
Jeeps filled with armed men came screeching towards us. Dust engulfed the entire scene, but darker was
the fear raised within our hearts. We trembled.

In no time, three corpulent man, unloaded off the jeep and rushed towards me, shouting commands at
the top of their voice. "Lie down! Put your hands back!", they shouted. I fell prostrate on the ground
confused of the events. They came to me and picked me up, tied my hands and dragged me, "What's the
matter? What have I done? Who are you? I fired questions out of confusion. But they seemed to be in no
mood to answer. I struggled to get free, when all of a sudden the man with baton in his hand, flashed it at
me and said, "No questions for now, just know that you have been sought by Hitler".

Hitler! Did I hear it right? He has long been dead, where am I, I was resident of India and there had been
no Hitler here, I closed my eyes and reopened, I was in India, they were Indian police men around me. I

Siddharth Shankaran 32
thought I was in Berlin. In any case, who is this Hitler?

But the policemen had changed; they were much less corpulent and bulky now. My field was no longer
around me, instead a roof top filled with technical gadgets laid around. I rushed towards the edge, freeing
myself of the police men arms. It was too high, a deep bay laid on the edge. Turning sideways my eyes
locked with the friends looking into that deep bay. They too were filled with the same questions, when all
of a sudden a tall, burly man appeared behind him with a sharp razor in his hand. "Jump! I retorted. He
did jump, however, only after his throat was slit.

I cowered with fear, petrified; I fell back on the floor. And then I heard the sound of the boots bashing on
the floor. I raised my head, a short stout man stood in front." Who are you?" I whined. Why are you killing
us? What the hell is your authority? Dont you fear law or god?

He smirked and bent down to my face. "I am Hitler. No, don't be surprised. If you seem to think that with
death of a Nazi Hitler, idea of HITLER could be killed, then you are wrong. You can kill the man, but not
the idea. Our idea was always stronger, always desirable. In the pursuit of betterment of civilization, some
people have to exhumed at the cost of others, and this is what I do, this is what Hitler has been. I am
powered by nature to exterminate the undesirable weeds of filthy human beings born out of trash. One
race has to always decimate the other one, to maintain their pride. Lines of division may change, but it
will always be "us" against "them". Unfortunately you belong to "them", the feeble, weaker, filthier
category. Turn around your thought and look with clear eyes, all the shouts of freedom are nothing more
than an extended pursuit of the vested interests. I do not carry that sham. I have been only fighting for
my race, the race of rich and intelligent. It is us who are supposed to be at the helm always, you laborers
deserve to be crushed at best. You have few minutes to death, take a good look at me, and wish that you
were reborn to our race, the race of superior beings of rich and intellectual, else, this cycle would always
have short term. Hitler never died, and it will never die, you and your ilk will".

I could see the end now, very soon all of my ilk would be abolished, I would just leave earlier. This fault
lay not with my "labor" capacity, but with my incapacity to be rich or intelligent. This Hitler stood in front

Siddharth Shankaran 33
of me , now in this life who I hate so much now, he didn't seem to be wrong however, as I ruminated over
those invidious words. I dont want to be born poor or unintellectual. However, before I could think for
long, I was pushed over to death.

I woke up, saw around me, I was in Bangalore, sighing, I got up, to accomplish what my master has
commanded us individuals to. Which master? Hitler, of course!

Siddharth Shankaran 34
Birth and Re-birth

And I accepted another birth. Squirming, wriggling, and dying to get going. The stream in front giggled
over the pebbles, which shone though the light that filtered through the thin layer of stream. Across the
river, there was dense vegetation, verdant and lush. I sprinted towards the other shore; one jump was all
it took. However, as I landed, darkness loomed over the area; lush vegetation had turned to dark logs.
Bewildered, I turned around, only to find the other shore, as desolate as ever.

My claim to life was due; it had to be affirmed by the human in me. However, when darkness drenches the
horizon, one can only be left wondering. Not me, however. I was freshly born, unencumbered with the
conventional wisdom. I closed my eyes, and shut off the sensation of sight. It was no longer dark,
darkness had no meaning now. As I moved further, assisted by my senses, I ran into dark objects, but
they didn't deter me, for I couldn't see them. They were all same to me, symptomatic of objects, neither
good nor bad.

I walked for, I don't know how long; there was no time. It seemed to be long since I started and yet it was
just as near to me as the engraving on my mind. Suddenly, the clamor of surrounding overgrew the
silence within. It was disturbing to an infant. How can he cope with it? It worsened. I was the source of
common anger. I was the harbinger of change, a change that locked its horns with stasis. I represented
something I didn't understand, yet I was never separate from it. Subject and object had colluded and now
there was none. An arrogant person threw coconut on my head, and naturally it blasted into two. I stood
unmoved, for I didn't know what was on. People around me clapped, there was jubilation all around.

I was unmoved, undeterred, for I was never challenged. My head became the slab for breaking coconut
shells, it fell apart on my head, and I sensed a liquid down my nose. It moved into my mouth and I

Siddharth Shankaran 35
sensed "hunger", it grew, unfettered, unbound. It drove me mad. I needed more of it, my hunger killed
me, it drove me down. I sought the public to use me for their fun and give me in turn the "liquid" that I
wanted so much now. Laughter turned louder, clamor grew bigger, and the liquid poured faster. I drank it ;
kept drinking it. And suddenly there was a deluge of the "liquid". I couldn't swallow it all and I puked.
Clamor died down at once, laughter ceased. It was all silent again. I was losing all my senses and out of
fear, I opened my eyes. It was still dark all around.

Instinctively I shut them back at once and shed my breath.


"Do you seek re-birth? a faint voice echoed. I obliged, and here I was once again.
Stream gurgled and I could see the verdant landscape on the other side. I took a jump....

Siddharth Shankaran 36
Bhutta waali

"Unless we have equality in our society, it will only remain divided and unstable. Howsoever elusive it may
seem to be, communism is the only way to achieve stability", ranted a socialist during a TV debate. Being
too pissed off of the nonsense being uttered I got off to ramble around. It was a cool calm evening of
Darbhanga , which lasts for few days an year only. I wished to walk around the empty field, and for
company thought of buying baked bhutta. There were too many options in terms of the sellers; I landed
onto the one where a middle aged lady was sitting with a child around 10 years of age. She was baking
bhutta on charcoal. Seeing I approaching see took out a bhutta for me, I felt the toughness of corn and
retorted, no, this is too hard". She smiled back, "babu! Take this one, its tender and sweet!" I protested,
"No! I want other one! perhaps to show who the boss was! " . All right! She brought out another one and
started baking it. A quaint smile was sprawled all over her face. It was a caring smile, a peaceful smile, a
smile found on face after achieving the satisfaction of a victory. What victory did she have today? I

She was meanwhile tutoring her son as well, as when to pluck out the maize off the field. When is the best
time to get it off the field and he seemed to understand it all. That scene of a child getting the knowledge
of survival from her mother seemed like they way Krishna taught Arjuna in battlefield. Although the child
here was not confused as Arjuna was.
In the process she kept negotiating with other buyers as well, and perhaps indicated her son to follow her
in the art of negotiation. My bhutta was ready meanwhile and I handed her a 20 Rs. note. I was a bit lost
into the calculation as to how much would they earn in a day. At most 100. Not more than that. But there
was no sign of pain on their face, as pain has forgotten their address or may be they have grown inured to
the daily challenges of life.

Well I took the change and bhutta and went ahead thinking about it. About the disparity. About the

Siddharth Shankaran 37
honesty of the poor even though they have everything to loose. How much they charged for a bhutta? I
saw that the change was 7 rs. She must have charged 3 rs. It just then that I remembered that I had
given her 20 rs. Note. She should have had returned 13.
Did she cheat? Or had she mistaken. I thought of lambasting the lady for this, just when the face of child
and his mother came in front of me. How much will she gain my cheating me of 10 rs. May she will be
able to give him a better food for the day. Or may be sweets tonight. I couldn't decide what should I do ?
Also, I was apprehensive that she might refute my claims of giving her 20 rs note. All my assumptions of
poor's honesty was drowned. It was not that I would have minded loss of 10 rs.

After some minutes of debating with myself I decided to get the money back. I went to her and told that I
had given you 20 rs. Note, expecting a refusal from her side. However, she immediately apologized, beat
her knuckles against her head and returned a 10 rs. Note to me, still smiling the same way. I felt sorry for
her, though it appeared reverse.

I don't know why I went back to claim my money. I don't have an answer to that. Maybe I didn't want to
dole out alms to her or may be I was too cynic with the thought that she might have had cheated. I went
with bhutta to the field to roam about, only that I had more companions now, her persistent smile and my
heavy heart.

Siddharth Shankaran 38

Siddharth Shankaran 39
Whither go you!

Rush now! This drizzle ain't gonna stop soon. Why does it have to rain so much in Bangalore? I am
already down with cold and getting wet in this drizzle is certainly not helping me out.

Everything's so wet, dirty and cold. Goddamn these roads. Potholes filled to the brim and rain water
splashing onto my pant. Get home fast, its horrible. It sucks boy! I cant see the road ahead clearly and I
shiver of the chill that runs down my body. A dry comfort at home would be so good to have now. These
goddamn cars, why do they have to overtake on a rainy day, all of them seem to have connived to ground

Ah! Here comes the hotel. I feel hungry. I should have dinner before rushing any more. I wish I were in
home as soon as possible, but as there would be no food back there, I should have my dinner first. Dinner
taste good but waste of time beats against my mind persistently. I am still shivering with cold. Rush to
home, how good would it be at home now, in my blanket.

I leave after having my dinner and after a mad driver for few minutes reach my house. Feels good to be
back home. Its warm and cozy. I shall take leisure now, the beauty and warmth of my home. Boy! its


Siddharth Shankaran 40
I have been lying in here for two hours now, blanket's too hot now. I get restless and look out of the
window. Its still raining outside. The rain outside looks so pretty. Its chill and coolness entices me for it.
Ahh! How I wish to be out in the rain
Just an another day today

Just an another day today. Air is dry and Sun is blistering. Wearily I prepare to leave for office. My mind is
full of questions. Questions of what? I can't say for sure. I guess that is what gives so much intensity to
the question. I just reckon the to do's of the day, but that doesn't hold my attention for long. Very
frequently the question bangs against my mind. Who am I? What am I? How do I know myself? What is
my Identity? How do I travel into the realms of the unexplored domain of mind and search myself. I am
my mind, my reason, my logic. But then why doesn't it manifest itself. Am I not an animal, striving to
fulfill its needs but could never see the peace within. If my mind is me, why does it think against me? If
my mind is me why doesn't it seek life? How could my mind turn a traitor against me, thereby against
itself? Its paradoxical. Is it self destroying? If so it must have been destroyed by now. I know that it seeks
existence, but then why is it that it acts against life. In the Upanishads it is said that our goal is to realize
self, its self that gives identity to this world. Where has this self gone? What leashes this valiant mind and
subdues it? What does it fear? What does it want to be? What does it wish to avoid? With the net result of
further confusing myself, I leave house with a hanging face.

On my bike now, driving to office. Gentle breeze blows against my face, dead leaves fall off the trees and
spread in front of me. Its the spring time, the time when old sheds itself and gives way to new. Lost in
these I gaze at the dried branches of the trees around. Barren as they are, yet hopeful of new life. I take a
look around me and find multitude of people buzzing. Are they too dead , ready to give way to new life? It
seems truer to me in my own context. But to what life have I paved the way?

Wheel rolls at 60Km/ph and I am at office now, weary of beginning the day. It has to begin but. For until I
am the dead leaf of the tree of life, I am alive. Till then I know that my mind is alive as well. The struggle
between me and my mind shall continue this way, hoping that some day they may reconcile and move
together. Digging deep I hit upon a plausible reason of conflict. My mind is a free entity but I am the

Siddharth Shankaran 41
product of others mind and so are they. I am the part of that long chain of blinded people held together
with ignorance. My mind tends to act as my liberator but I tend to be bound. Could they ever come
together? I don't know? But a strong conviction that I have in unison with my mind is that knowledge will
liberate me and will bring us together. Knowledge is what I should seek for it holds the promise of
liberation for me. I could be right this time. It holds the promise for me. Knowledge. It guides me to a
purpose. Cautiously optimistic as I am, I feel good about it, but that traitor knows something that I don't
and smirks at me silently.

Siddharth Shankaran 42
Sham or a sincere outcry!

Mumbai has been under attack once again, no, not by Raj Thackrey and his goons, they are hibernating
for some time now, rather its an attack by other terrorists , purportedly , sent from our neighboring
country, belonging to a certain difficult to be pronounced militant outfit.

Newspapers, TV channels, Ministers are on a roll, doling out their condolences to the nation and pledging
to avert this next time. I guess they are pledging to take the vow of eradicating it if it happens again.
Thats not a small gesture on their part. People have been held hostage in Taj and Oberoi, however, their
round the clock status is reaching us every moment. Thanks to our responsible media. All the technical
as well as political aspects of this attack are being vociferously debated on News channels by hyperactive
hosts. They are fighting a parallel battle as NSGs are in Taj and Oberoi, in terms of who could pose the,
most difficult question, most witty remark and shout at the top of their voice. In their small TV studio they
seem to reach a final consensus which they believe represents Indian masses. All the future to be done
steps have been finalized by them together with some eminent dignitaries. Huh!
Enough of this sham! Put it off!

With the Indian masses it has been always the same. At any time when their vested interests have been
hurt, there has been a huge uproar. Responsible citizens would come to the fore and criticize the
government. They will light candles to commemorate the dead. They will gather together to pass there
message to the government. And everyone will shout at the top of their voice, System needs change.

My intentions over here are not to rebuke any such person who mourns for the dead. I too sympathize
with the victims from the very core of my heart. However, I am pointing to the other problem. The
problem that the Indian Middle class doesnt budge until and unless it hits them directly. Our country isnt
an affluent country and a vast swathe of population is still very poor. Around 35-40% of them are facing

Siddharth Shankaran 43
acute food shortages. But these problems dont attract their attention. They are not vehement in their
demands of change at that time. Where were these eminent citizens lying when Raj Thackrey and his
goons were committing atrocities on the poor mass of Bombay, in which few succumbed to death as well.
There wasnt even a single public demonstration. Where was this public anger when vast swathe of
farmers committed suicides in Maharashtra and in several other areas? There is no uproar from our
eminent citizens when our country is ranked 66 out of 88 countries in GHI (Global Hunger Index). 17
Indian states have an acute food crisis, but they never gathered the attention of our sincere and
concerned middle class. With every passing day I seem to concur more and more with Pavan and his
findings. This Indian Middle class is so much engrossed into its own vested interests that it will only serve
to destroy what has been earned by our forefathers.

Put this pretense of being concerned citizen to back burner and go and have your drinks. You were never
concerned for the nation.

Siddharth Shankaran 44
A matter of Matter

Into one of those moments, time lost its count. It lost the point where it was supposed to head on to. A
parched land received a jolt of happiness of the fresh bout of rain and it created in its own entirety
something that had no purpose of existence. Strong breeze took over the gentle calm of the land and
began plundering its assets. Such was the commotion that nothing could be heard or seen nearby. All the
Ideals and Principles swayed away with that breeze.

It did occur to him that there was a purpose behind all of it, however the rationale behind it was lacking in
its entirety, or perhaps, he felt, he had forgotten the meaning of existence or purpose, or may be he has
just mixed it all up. The big door to a land of imagination was grimy, and he felt that with his hands. It
was misty with the emotion which was dilly dallying over whether it is a messenger of joy or is it a
harbinger of hell. He wished to dare and cross the door, but the barriers to the door were two long ZIP
lines, bound together with probity.

Anyways, his mind had left him at this moment and the actions were those marked by the natural instincts
of an animal. Moving ahead he felt a moist universe into his hands and it appeared to fade down with
emotions that were still confused of its nature. He didn't restraint himself, though, at this juncture and
moved on with the instincts that were sown deep down into his self, and it marked the moment when this
confluence of matter lost into each other......

.....Ah! I found it. Eureka!! Its the confluence of matter that makes us as we are and so does it creates
the entire universe around us. Its way leads ultimately into the same blackness that it originated from.
This seems to be a revelation to me, a revelation of truth, bounded by mater itself. Perhaps, I am the
delighted one now, or Am I the enlightened one? Hold on!

Siddharth Shankaran 45
What about the question of the purpose piece of matter is supposed to serve?
There ain't any. Its like the natural movement of earth, the natural singing of koels, and so is it the
natural growth of ours. Creation shall invite destruction to take upon itself the responsibility of keeping the
wheel spinning, which shall always continue spinning, it has no start or ends attached to it.

Wait a minute! Does this justify a life devoid of purpose? Ah! That's not the question, its not to be asked
about, nature's purpose is to be imbued into one's own self, it attends that purpose on its own, however,
when you try to gauze that, its lost. Such is the subtleness of this matter.

But, wait! I am drinking the nectar now, feeding this material its food, feeding this undefined central force,
and this I keep moving. I swallow the two poles of this mass and drink from its pores. I continue drinking
them until the moment it takes me to an unknown height, the height which couldn't be reached
individually. And then, at once my universe collapses in front of me, perhaps, I drank too much out of it. It
gets lost and slips out of my hand and I am just caught unawares, longing for more.

Enough of this now! My hunger has died down; I am filled to my core. Ramifications of this devouring act
do seem to take me a step back however. But then, what is it to care about? whom to worry about?
Myself? There is no me. I am null and nothing. I am the void that has originated everything and its to this
void that we keep commuting to and from.

Siddharth Shankaran 46
Bangalore Nights

Bangalore nights are special, especially since it's the representative of the pristine city, uncrowded and
unpacked. What gives the feel of heaven more so is the cool climate of the night, the breeze blows gently
against oneself and chills him. It's so special since you can drive on road , hassle free.

Tonight (Sunday) was one such beautiful night. Moonlit streets, cold breeze swaying you on its bosoms,
and silence of a lazy road with a gusty motor racing on it. Trees on sidewalks had their silhouettes drawn
up with vivid starkness. The way ahead seems to be approaching you faster than you would want it to.
But, except my motor, none are in hurry. The entire panorama had almost dissolved itself in the moonlight
and gentle wind caresses the tarred way ahead.

Alas! a car owner imputes its beauty by not taking note of it. "Get out of your shell", the night beseeches
all and sundry, "and drink this joy, it's precious and yet it's free." The traveler only needs to welcome
these waves to his heart, he would only find that it has grown bigger and blessed. Ah! Thou night, I do not
get that joy , closed in my haven, a prisoner of time and routine, and today, when I have overridden those
barriers, more importantly of my heart, I see what a beauty sleeps with me on all nights. And , I , your
unrequited lover, keep coming back to you and keep falling in love with you, again and again.

Siddharth Shankaran 47

The story of life isn't life in the end, its a story. In describing a story what points do you put in as relevant
and elucidate ?Out of the innumerable incidents , born out of desperate moments , desperate to make
them momentous, a writer gleans the few which would serve the purpose of a story, one's which would
generate interest and intrigue. They will either portray simplicity, a beauty, an intricacy or something
worth contributing to the story.

Yet, I find it difficult to undermine the relevance of the moments, untold and unsaid, in life that do no
contribute to the story. For a writer, what matters is a portrayal of the few moments, from which he
creates a mesh of plot, wherein he/she could fit characters and highlight their conflicts and dilemmas. But,
is that life? A story is a story, something that begs for a coherent sequence of ideas. Does, it apply equally
to life?
Yet, begin I must. I must write, even though it is myopic and imperfect. Illusion. The word inspires me. It
goads me to picture the world on this canvas. What do I get? A portrait, seemingly, not a definitive truth,
rather an elusive one. Elusive in its essence, and thus illusive in human terms. To the human eyes, it
never appears constant. It changes. For every moment, for every incidents. With those human eyes, its
changing natures are the only constant view. What is illusion for me? This act of writing seems vulnerable
to it, and so does your act of reading. You and I are both trapped by these illusory words, which would
morph into something else the next moment, leaving us awed. Yet, we accept it, debunk it and then pave
way for the next one.
We are not a different being from our illusion. Our illusion and us are same. But illusions change, as do the
truths, as the nomads, never settling for one. But wait, isn't this change itself part of an illusion. An
illusion of time, which attaches to all objects a permanent nature of change. We can never realize it from
our framework of time. Destroy your framework of time and you see that there is no change. There cannot
be one.

Siddharth Shankaran 48
Yet, we firmly hold on to our illusions and at least I do to mine. I don't exist beyond it, and its nature itself
suggests the meaning of existence to me. In essence, I am born out of it. How do I know? Because it
changes. Oops! What did I say? "Change", this illusion of time is so deeply entrenched in me. You see, we
all lie in it, waft in it, move out of it, and still always be in it. Illusion. And its again I recall, those initial
words that I heard somewhere, the story of life, in the end, is a story, not life.

Siddharth Shankaran 49
Mythical Anxiety

Anxiousness and trouble are both a myth. They emerge from our conception of future, based on past
patterns, and from a restricted sense of self. But, when the time passes we wonder, what it we were
worried about. In a sense, this seems to me to be a cycle of life. Even though, I very well understand that
what I would worry about would not lead to the same things, I do worry. Its like a routine. Worry first and
then feel relived later that you are no longer worried and the in some time pave way for another worry.

Its amazing to realize that, myths, though we know them to be so, never are absent from our beliefs. Our
myths are deeply enshrined into our beliefs. They shape our actions and moods, but we always realize
later that it was not so.

In one of the articles in NYT, it was said that people do not fear bad times. But they fear that quashing of
their hope at the onset of a bad time, in place of a good time. This loss or the fear of loss of a good time
in place of a hope a good time is what troubles us the most. Hope and fear, as I have earlier posted are
myths. There is neither hope nor fear. And the actions are supreme, yet despite of knowing that it is a
myth, I and many of us, both hope and fear. And then later realize that it was just another myth.

From a human perspective, it appears that Hope is inevitable and so is fear. Both are complimentary, and
when one is asked for other too makes its presence felt. Why is it so difficult to seek the middle path of
Buddha, why is it so impossible to break oneself of this chain?

I may never be able to answer that, or I may not be ready enough to face the answer, for it could be
lurking within me. But, how do I forgo effects and betray causes. How do I adopt inaction? How do I live
on it and not try to live? How do I let things their way rather than forcing them. Its difficult for me, as had
been for many others, yet, I keep trying so that I do not have to try any longer. To keep practicing so that

Siddharth Shankaran 50
I do not have do it.

Until it gets undone within me, I will dangle between them, crave and cower, and still try to be human.
Inconsistent Self
Every word that I write and think about is susceptible to inconsistency. By being inconsistent I mean,
being at variance with what I am and what I actually think I am. There is a considerable difference
between these two. Our choices are rational and irrational, and due to the lack of further knowledge, we
term anything as irrational, which doesn't come from careful thinking. Hence, our thinking and non-
thinking nature guides most of our decisions (not all, for I am not sure about that). Which one is our
"self? That which is rational or that which is intuitive? But the main question is not whether, what should
be defined as our self, but, whether consistency is possible or desirable in that definition of self, which

We are inconsistent. It is impossible to be consistent. But the culprit lies in "desirability". We desire
consistency. But it always is elusive. And it is this elusiveness that guarantees that we are persistently in
search of thoughts or ideas which we could consistently be. Nevertheless, despite of what we desire, it is
impossible to be consistent.

But why desire consistency? Why should we be enslaved by an Idea to the extent that we cant afford to
be out of it? The prime motive behind this hankering for consistency lies in the fear of unknown. We do
not wish to dwell in unknowns. We want our homes to stay where they are, our relations and other such
things to stay. This may be justified to some extent, but becomes too much a burden when used as an
argument to make consistency solely desirable.

Man will be inconsistent. He may defy what he teaches today. He may praise what he despises today. He
will be inconsistent, but in his inconsistency lays his desirability to be his own self. You may say then how
do we have order, if men were to be inconsistent? But, the bias towards inconsistency being random is
mistaken. Inconsistency is variable, but not random. It seeks its aim. And to that end, it moves, though
others may consider it to be random. Chaos has an order, an order of different kind, which we do not

Siddharth Shankaran 51
understand through our naive capacity. Thus, its mostly in our myopic view that we associate inconsistent
self with anarchy.
In being inconsistent thus, lies our consistency.
Delhi 6 A perspective

And I landed at Kashmiri gate ISBT. Climate being comparatively cooler in the early morning, I planned to
take a stroll around. Very soon I was standing in front of LalQuila, which appeared more of a black quila,
and the chain of history began flowing in. At this place, the fate of my country was chosen. At this place
my country took birth. I wished to salute it, but eccentricity is mostly reserved for blogs and thus I
dropped the idea. There were stream of visitors moving around that place, perhaps visiting the place for
the first time in their life. I wondered, how many really understood the idea of nation state, or did I myself
understand it? Philosophical indulgence in hot Delhi sun could be harmful for health, however, and thus I
moved on.

Next in line was Chandini Chowk, a place as crowded as ever. People all around, whether you turn your
eyes or not. Your eyes will never be empty of their sight. Shops on both side of street, and brokers
persuading you to get into their shops. In the hot humid climate of Delhi, you don't wish to have such a
vast swathe of people around you. All of them appeared to be in a hurry, tackling life or death questions
may be. And I started getting agoraphobic. How the hell do they live? Are they not humans? How can they
make such a mess of humanity? Who made it? I felt a deep hatred and anger towards humans, including
What am I? A nameless face in this crowd. An worthless insect in this bunch of filth. How could man claim
his greatness if he still is part of this crowded civilization? There is no meaning to humans here. Mere
numbers. Mother earth bears the pain relentlessly, but nature would take revenge one day and exhume
them all. Why, if there are so little resources available, should people make it all the more crowded? Why
should poor wretched produce so many, when they cant do anything more than defiling this beautiful earth
and country? Why not a big lot be exhumed so that the ones left could lead a life of worth and dignity. As

Siddharth Shankaran 52
of now, none do. Nihilism is the only way left.

Frustration of hot sun couldn't have had asked for a better fuel than this sight. However, just then, while
moving, I saw a Gurudwara on my left. It was crowded at the entrance. A Sikh person was offering water
to every passerby, relentlessly, with no sign of strain on his face. I was touched by the contrast between
my thought and his act. He, for whatever reason, was not averse to mankind, instead, trying his bit to
save it, help it, and preserve it. And I, Nihilistic as I had grown was ready to exhume the entire bulk of
wasted humanity. To establish goodness in less and pathos in more.

I was awestruck by this thought. I realized that what I was thinking was what Hitler used as his
propaganda against whomever. If there is a sense of crowded helplessness into my mind, its because I
have always seen the world from that narrow perspective of self. There is a world outside of me. It was for
all, and all were for it. There is no crowd, just our perception of self traducing others right to life. I
belonged to world and world to me. When I was in this cauldron, how could have I thought of something
out of it. Given a moment's thought, I found that this narrowed view of self, is what has served as the
seed of parochialism and crass nationalism, disregarding one set of peoples over another. When placed
here, on this land, with this set of rights, and belongings, I should know that its the world that has been
given to me. This universe, this entire crowd set, and all of Delhi-6 and I were one.

Embarrassed at my own chain of thoughts few moments ago, I moved ahead, to eat jalebi, at a crowded
stall. Well, Shahjehan selected this place for his quila and I, out of serendipity, for my knowledge. How

Siddharth Shankaran 53
Identity and Death

This piece of article intends to take a deep dive into philosophy of identity.

I just finished the book Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A very difficult read and certainly one of
those books which literally enchanted me and I had visions beyond comprehension. However, its
something which that book forced me to realize that I wish to jot down. Besides the common fact that
Quality is the undefined essence of life, the book questions the objective truths. What does a "person"
constitute of? If looked objectively, it would tend to list organic entities, hand, face, legs, mind and so on.
But Objective view isn't the only view; rather its a skewed view. So used to believing (through the senses
of sight and reasoning) the individual as an objective entity are we that we get blinded by our own
reasoning. Subjectively an individual is much more than the sum of his parts. He is part of a framework.
But, what happens when he dies?
Author has aptly raised the issue of identifying "he" in the above sentence. What is "he"? What am "I? If I
am to be looked as only the sum of my biological parts, then I am aptly wiped by that definition. However,
I am more than that. I am part of a thinking framework, in which I exist, my "ghost" had always existed,
and it never died, for it was never born. In saying this I seem to concur with a phrase in "Gita,

"Neither One Dies, nor one kills".

However, let me take you through the thought process which culminated on it.

If Science has made everything better, and keeps making better, then certainly what existed earlier was
just good, but not as good as latter. Where does this lead to? If something which existed was not good,
what is the purpose of existence in a "non-better" world that endlessly chases better world thereby never
reaching it? There can never be reached a full stop point in this view, as the science progresses and keep

Siddharth Shankaran 54
on striving for better and better. For Science can have no end, if it does then certainly science isn't the end
in the means. Wow! Certainly then, science is not the absolute of this changing world, its just an another
tool in the entire scheme of things.

I could safely conclude over here that science is just a tool of the world and not an end in itself and so is
reason. Reason gives birth to science and nurtures it, but reason isn't all. Its just part of a greater
scheme of things.

What about death then? I think of my Grandfather. He expired 7 years ago, but what died was based on
this reasoning mind's perception of physical form. He certainly did die in that way, but he lived through
the way of his presence. His works, deeds, existence. He exists now as well and can not be perceived by
every sense that I have. In this framework of world, he existed, sought quality, shed its last breath, but he
still exists, in thoughts, in this scheme of things.

To say that what exists in your mind is virtual is like saying eye is the absolute. To the argument which
says that whatever can be looked through an eye only exists, science itself comes to my rescue and
debunks this myth. I am, as an existing creature, part of this framework of world. I have never been born
and so will I never be killed, I will exist just as existence itself is. What moves me is a quality decision. A
decision to "better" things, not necessarily a better world. World has always been what it is, never good
never bad.

I understand now what Tao means when he says,

Do you want to improve the world?

I don't think it can be done.

The world is sacred.

It can't be improved.

Siddharth Shankaran 55
If you tamper with it, you'll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you'll lose it.

And when he says the following I understand what he means.

The Tao is infinite, eternal.

Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.

But as I begin to feel an understanding of "it". I hear the following words:

Those who know don't talk.

Those who talk don't know.

Close your mouth,

block off your senses,
blunt your sharpness,
untie your knots,
soften your glare,
settle your dust.
This is the primal identity.

And thus I draw myself in now, unknowing things and in effect knowing them

Siddharth Shankaran 56
When your friend gets a Girlfriend

Contrary to popular belief that marriage changes a man, these days, they are molded much earlier. I had
never imagined during my growing up years that, it would be an issue worth writing, however, as it
appears, it very much is.

Love, partly a euphemism for attraction and partly unexplained phenomenon stalks youth very
indiscriminately these days. It changes the entire dimension of life for individuals and they begin to see
and experience much than what they could or would have had with the bare eyes. Biologically, love is just
a set of chemical reaction of hormones that makes one irrational for time being and changes the
dimensions completely. I don't intend to get into debating this objective view of love; however, its the
ramifications of this love that I am concerned about.

Very certainly it changes the perspective and life of individuals in love tremendously, but how much
change does it bring to the friends of couples. Friends of couples have been given unfair treatment in this
whole episode of love, although their role is no less important. This injustice can be observed both in day
to day life and reel life. They are the catalysts of the relationship yet they are sidelined by the focus on

I shall try to square this iniquity in literature at least. To whatsoever extent, it does change the life of
friends. The change however isn't overnight. It progresses in stages, starting with the guy being busy
SMSing or blubbering on phone in aloof, portending an imminent expansion of group and alienation of the
guy. Well, these poor souls bear this change with equanimity, but it doesn't stop there. One day it gets
official and you have a new member in the group and whether you liked it or not, it has to expand. At this

Siddharth Shankaran 57
stage guy has to welcome the inclusion of the new member in the group whole heartedly, and even make
amends to his ways to make it comfortable for the new entrant. As days progress he gets used to the
friend's ringtones and constant litany of "aur batao". It doesn't stop there; however, he is to be, from now,
an advocate of his friend's girlfriend, to sort things out whenever there are signs of strains. This is an
uphill task when none of them is ready to oblige and you don't know what the fight is actually for.
However, even at the cost of looking foolish he tries to sort it out.

And yeah, it doesn't end there as well; now things don't happen as they used to be, it changes
diametrically. Plans have to accommodate the whims and fancies of new member. The plight of guy is
pitiable when he has to act as the adjutant to his friend's girlfriend and her fantastic plans, for his friend's
birthday celebrations and other such events. Poor soul bears it all for the sake of his friend. And then, as
the time progresses, things change irreparably, the connection between you and your friend takes a
different dimension. Perhaps that's the course nature has attributed to it.

Amazingly, each of the guys in the group feels this twinge when one of the members gets a girlfriend, but
all behave similarly in their own case.
Its not that I wish to portray it as a nasty encumbrance, but instead there are unsung heroes behind all
these affairs who have been completely neglected. Change is the only constant thing in the universe and
hence people keep changing with time. So next time your affair crystallizes, don't forget to thank your
friend, his sacrifices aren't less worthy than yours.

Siddharth Shankaran 58
Amitabh Bachhan A liar?

Did Amitabh Lie? This seems to be an interesting question. Amitabh Bacchan, soul of Indian cinema in 70s
and biggest Indian superstar of all time lied. He did. When and how? Answer to former lies not on a date,
but in a span of years and the very same years explain how.

In his movies released in 70s he epitomized the image of an average angry Indian youth. Most of his
movies hovered around that theme. But later he became banal, too trite and repetitive. Changing India
could no longer associate itself with his old image, result; he was out of scene for several years. What did
he do then? He changed his image and changed his theme and came in a new Avatar. An Amitabh, who
had adapted to modern times. Now his image was more of a daring actor who didn't fear experimenting
with roles. He did bold and unconventional movies like Black, Nishabd,Cheeni Kum, Aks and so on. If
someone asks me today , what is the image that he dons, I cant tell , he is so eclectic now.

Well, that was his career graph, when did he lie? Answer to that is throughout. An artist is a person who
champions his beliefs through his skills. Its not expected of them to pander to conflicting ideas, so as
bring forth a confused message. They can not be effective if they themselves do not endorse their beliefs.
It is in this context of art that he lied and not only had him, most of the commercial actors done the same.
Their purpose wasn't art, it was fame and money. Would you endorse him as the greatest artist to our
posterity? Never. He never had a message; all that he was doing was pandering to greater mass a
debased form of art.

I chose Amitabh's name for this article, since he is the most known artist to me. But it is true for ever

Siddharth Shankaran 59
other such actors. They are not artists, they are only commercial baniyas.
In artistic terms, an actor is one who enacts a scene, he gives a visual treat to an idea, and however, this
doesn't mean he is separate from it. Both an actor and act are one. They are not dual. Any artist
understands that.

I wondered next, why if I know now that he is not an artist I would look out for him to be entertained.
Why do I want to see the zero figure of lascivious Kareena (another artist ostensibly), or fight stunts of
Akshay or any such "non-artistic" stuff? And I found the answer to that. Such stuff is only
entertainment, not art, where latter encompasses former, while former is devoid of latter. Entertainment
panders to sense; art caters to our soul and grows us. Former lacks rationality, while latter is the base of

When this idea dawned on me, I was awestruck. How much have they debased art and mutilated the
concept of an artist? I may have been bit harsh on Amitabh here, but I know that he seconds my opinion,
when he refers to his father, Harivansh Rai Bacchan, as an artist of true nature and not himself. He has
always been humble enough to recognize that truth. I can recall once Harivansh Rai remarked on his son's
popularity in comparison to his own. To know me you have to be a graduate in Hindi literature, whereas
to know him you have to be nobody".

I might have been too harsh on Amitabh here, but his was the best case I could have used (as I had been
his ardent fan) to bring out the truth. So next time you get to hear that Sharukh is an artist or for that
matter some bollywood actor/actresses being awarded doctorate in Art, you know what to replace the
word art with. Entertainers, always; Artists, never.

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India a mythical concept

Our growth is accompanied by a set of beliefs that we nurture with time. One such belief was a universal
concept of India as a nation. Imagining India to be a country formulated out of its own birthright.
However, with time the building blocks of this belief eroded. What I found was; India was a country
formulated by the vested interests of middle classes of different regions located in topographical vicinity.
India was just an incidental country formed out of the will of varied races to live in peace and prosperity.

And in doing so, India was no different from many other countries of the world. Why then did it hurt to
realize this truth about India? Reason for that perhaps lies in the nature of freedom struggle that India
undertook. India didn't exist, until revolutionaries came together and when they did come together, they
provided and envisioned a uniform and single view of the country despite its vast cultural, linguistic,
religious and social varieties. Considerable effort was made to drive home the point that "we" are one
nation, and we should come together to face this oppressive regime suppressing our liberties. Literature
played its part in enforcing this point, just as, "Jana Gana Man, took care of all the regions of the land.
This redrawing of Indian political border, and uniting all of them under it, presented an illusion of a
uniform India. I wasn't born in history, and thus I can't make objective remarks on the past, but it
appears to me that, "India was united in adversity but is divided in prosperity".

Jingoism, parochialism, chauvinism, isnt new phenomenon to be observed. Mirage of human upliftment
through education provides a mistaken belief of extinction of these terms. A non parochial India is an
elusive dream, and will remain so , until the economical factors of the region balance out the inequities
among different regions.

Siddharth Shankaran 61
Shashi Tharoor in his masterpiece work on Indian history has aptly pointed out that India is a collection of
minorities. Dividing lines are numerous, and yet it somehow manages to stay together. North and South,
Hindu and Muslim, Bihari and Punjabi, Tamil and Kannadiga, the list is endless. And the truth is that it is a
reality. Hence, when those guys out there in Australia decry the attacks on Indian students as racism
practiced by Australians, I would urge them to look in their own backyard and understand .Racism comes
from the very notion of success and failure. Patronizing one person over another based on certain features
acts as the roots of racism.

Why do I write such a wanton piece on India? Because, its considered too sacrilegious a subject to be
discussed, because its a sham to shout at the top of your voice to be an Indian, ignoring the hard facts in
your backyard. I can recall what one of my friend, frustrated of racism against Northies in South India
said, "India as a nation is a bogus concept. Administrative Jobs are popular because it empowers you over
and above the fragile structure of Indian democracy. Common man like us will always have to bear this
pain of racism." He was exaggerating for sure, but to what extent ?

Siddharth Shankaran 62
Women and Feminism

Inasmuch as we men know, women are not us and thus it makes them "they". How this riddle could be
solved. If in the order of nature a complement was required for everyone, and thus manifesting duality,
then why did this duality become so perplexing. Throughout animal kingdom, male dominates its female
counterpart. This hasn't changed to this date, while with the Homo sapiens its been a remarkable shift
since the times of fabled Adam and Eve.

Humans differ from animals, very remarkably, in their power to think. Human beings could read a
situation, analyze it and then act as per their moral deductions. Can we, then, attribute the rise in the
status of women in the society to the thinking power of men? It seems to be so. In a very recent debate
about the post poll results, M J Akbar, made a point about BJPs failure, "BJP fails to understand why India
is secular. It is not secular because it houses so many religions together. It is secular because the Hindus
(majority) of India are secular". Drawing parallels from this can we deduce the reason for rise in the status
of women in the society, "Men recognized (by virtue of improved education and other conditions) that
women deserve equal space in the society ".
At least it must have had started this way, and slowly as the wave of change gained traction from different
sections, women overpowered the authoritative men and came up in the strata. Even today in the
orthodox societies, like ours, women are tethered by authoritative male. However, with the advent of time
and educational quality of the large swathe of our population, the trend is almost sure to change, but the
resultant effect is going to be quite unpredictable. It could very well be a new way with the mix of
traditional value and individualistic freedom, as could be seen to some degrees in our urban populace.

But is feminism all about raising the say of women in the society. It seems to have skewed onto that

Siddharth Shankaran 63
notion. Women had their own space of favor and respect in every period of history. That still remains as its
niche. However, with the growing lure of coming up on the front and be at the helm, feminism has ignored
the women in traditional yet significant roles.

Speaking non-politically, in larger part of our society, a woman is an object of pleasure, care, warmth, love
but not of authority. She is not entitled to choose her own way of life. Boys enjoy special privilege since
boys don't get pregnant. Huh! what a sham!

But society, in pursuit of maintaining its framework needs to chain the women. What would happen to the
existing order if women were to go astray? This specious argument reeks of chauvinism and racism, albeit
wrapped in wool of social concern. In a civilized society, if we could consider ourselves to be so, why can't
women declare their own way and their own framework of society? Let the reins of everyone's life be in
their own hands, and a society be formed of the individual will and not by forced subjugation.
Wishful as these Ideas may seem to be, for world is not yet perfect, not yet civilized to the extent to
accommodate both the sexes with equivalent status, they are very pertinent .World would tale time to
mature to the next level, till that time, there will be censures and rebukes on both sides of the
conservationists and the feminists, until one day when feminism tips over its bar and stands shoulder to
shoulder. Till that time we men continue to shamefully pride ourselves as better race.

Siddharth Shankaran 64
Happiness and Sadness

Is black and white overemphasized and given undue recognition which is out of place? Is duality the
nature's de-facto? The precepts have evolved from times immemorial, and although we live in this colorful
world, we have a hard time extricating ourselves from a definitive black and white. When the Chinese
Ying-Yang incorporates both black and white, eliciting the nature's law, isn't it restricting itself. Any person
on earth could testify that he/she experiences himself and his life to be made up of countless distinct
colors, even imperceptible at times.

Doesn't this analogy seem to direct us towards another such fallacy or myth that primarily influences our
lives? Happiness and Sadness. Since childhood this duality, and strictly so, is enforced to be our state of
mind. If you are happy you are not sad and vice versa, and all the time you are at least in one of the
states, and if not, at least you strive or contrive for one. This line of thinking is enough for us to guide our
actions, until we start to discern over what the underlying structure of life is.

Happiness and sadness are just two of the countless states we could be in and its certainly an improper
goal to chase. They way these two have been overrated , manifests itself in the mindless chase of the
human beings for happiness which he/she doesn't ever seem to get while chasing , and at times it just
becomes of you , without doing anything.

To speak frankly, it doesn't matter, what the next state would be and it certainly doesn't have to be
happiness, it has to "BE" one of the states, chosen by our environment and genes in a coordinated effort.
I run the risk of being termed a sadistic, but I know its just one of the states of mine that you still point
to, look beyond these two terms and you would know what I mean.

Siddharth Shankaran 65
But you may still quote the adage, "Don't worry be happy and I, not vehemently opposing it, would
suggest a minor but a significant tweak, "Don't worry, just BE".

A diary entry

Its been while since I last brushed my strokes. On a dark night last week, I set off my home, with blood
gushing into my head and my left testicles wriggling with pain. It was anger, and it moved me, it took me
to distances far and wide. Tear would well up intermittently, but would be held back by the anger seething
within my heart. I kept walking, until I could find a place to be at one with my own self.
A gathering of trees invited me to its bosom, to muse over the matter. My sense of anger rebelled against
any reconciliation. This moment enveloped all the gloom and despair and sprawled it over my existence.
Questions were springing up in quick successions, but the answers never appeared in near distance. Tired,
I foundered the boat of questions into the ocean of my eyes. It brimmed with tears and ran through my
face in serpentine paths, stuck to the chin, until it finally dropped off it, only to be lost in the ground
And when, I was defeated with myself, I felt a strong urge to land it all into the name of "GOD". Hand it all
to HIM and drop he burden off my shoulder. The lure was strong enough to land into that well of
falsehood. That pool of unknown and undefined invited me to surrender myself into it. I felt a vacuum of
ideas, faith and a fear of unknown crept over me. I rummaged through the words known to me from the
greats of the world, they inspired me, but none could lift me up. This moment made all of that
meaningless. What was my faith then? Was I to look within me? That was too clichd a term. Snubbing
them all I rose and left behind all that I was carrying. It was so very simple and direct.
Days after when I remember that night, I wonder what was different that night. What was becoming of
me? I feel sometimes an eerie sense of joy, a sense of unleashed spirit, a sense of unknown freedom. And
then its so subtle that the moment I try to capture it vanishes. Its mystic and yet I cant use that phrase
to define it.

Siddharth Shankaran 66
Post-Modernism is the idea, where people don't dole out statutes for way a human being is to be, based
on the conceived truths, but rather, focuses on why a human being acts in a certain way and suggests a
way to improve upon that, based on the individual's milieu. It very certainly abjures absolute truths and
seeks to identify individual truths. Both of those could be quite different and at times poles apart. Knowing
things from the prospective of why they are so in the first place paves way for a sustainable and amicable

The concept seems to be novel and very different, but again as an individual it still leaves the choice open,
whether I wish to pursue it.

Siddharth Shankaran 67
On a nostalgic note

Next song popped up on my lappy. I knew the song; it has been long since I had listened to this song.
"Hum to hain pardes mein, Desh mein nikla hoga chaand". Nostalgia overtook me, in a flash.

Images conjured up to my mind. I am lying on a chowki, all alone, bathed in milky moonlight. May be I
am not all alone; I am accompanied by the moon and the serenity surrounding me. Gentle breeze sways
over my sweaty body and sweeps all my worries.

Night bugs twitter and frogs croak, creating a symphony. In the near distance people gossip of the day
gone. What have I to talk about? Nothing. There isn't anything to loose, nothing to win. The whole
universe lies in me now, at this moment. At this thought a star winks at me, agreeing with me. The silence
surrounding me is deafening, broken intermittently by the undulating drone of the genset working far
away. I get up and look around me; its all awash with moonlight. So much so that it drips off the leaf's
edge in the near distance. Breeze now beats against my heart, soothing it as it passes through it.

Ah ! These coy memories make me home sick. Wish those days could come again. Sadly they never do. I
wonder if I could get that comfort for anything today. The pace of world in which we live, the urgency and
the hurry of moving forward that we have makes us forget what is already there. If science and
technology has changed the world in such a tremendous way, where has it lead to? It will always remain a
question. Development at what cost? Who knows? Till someone answers that, I can only be nostalgic and
crave for those times.

Siddharth Shankaran 68
In lethargy

Boredom, lack of purpose, lethargy, banality, unexciting, all these adjectives tend to mark only one point.
That you do not like what you are doing. Jump a wall, walk a mile, hum a song or do everything wrong.
Plethora of options, yet all lacking in motivation. Any possible road appears to be overused; mind seems
to be overwrought with nothingness. What pleasure does this state of existence give? Hard to tell but
impossible to ignore.

This hour shall give way to another and so shall the next one. This lethargy shall give way to further
laziness and so on, till it reaches a tipping point. What is a tipping point? Well a term used by Malcom
Galdwell to explain why things happen when they are supposed to happen. Sounds awkward? Actually it is
not. What it means basically is that for any change to happen it has to reach a tipping point, a point at
which the present state is too overburdened by its own existence and gives way to new. Sounds
interesting? Actually it is. But for more you need to go to the book and glean other such interesting facts
from it.
While I still am so unenthusiastic, lying in the hope of finding something exciting. What is excitement?
Well excitement is defined as the period of activity, a state of emotional arousal. Ahh! My emotions are all
too tired to get up now, they are perhaps lost in deep slumber and it would require something substantial
to get it out of the torpor. What would be such an activity? An intriguing story told by a boring friend, me
thrown into a swimming pool full of crabs, bungee jumping with an inexperienced guide. Ahh! My mind
militates against these bustling thoughts of activity. It smothers the joy thrown up and brings the torpor
back into action and goes back into another period of slumber. Hmm! writing of it too induces sleep in me
now, and perhaps in you too. Forget it. I am loving it. Me and my Inactivity.

Siddharth Shankaran 69

You wouldn't believe me if I tell you the truth. No! Not because you are a liar, rather you are an epitome of
truth and anything resembling it, however, you have become so very much inured to it that its presence
doesn't seem possible. Its paranoia, really, it is so. I am typing this blog here sitting in office, fearing that
no one catches me doing this. Driving to office poses a challenge in keeping the fear of being hit, subdued.
And then when I reach the outskirts of my workplace a mild fear of collapsing building and collapsing
economy slithers into my mind. I bet it does with you too, only you have got too inured to it.

Bravery, courage, resilience are the tenets of humans! Think again, what you consider as bravery could be
a fear of being in other situation; it could be such a force so as to drive a person beyond his capacity. A
soldier fighting on the front chooses death over a life of shame, why? He is afraid of infamy. He can't bear
the burden of cowardliness. Fear motivates him to ride above his own self. You see, I am not a "FEAR"
advocate, but the pervasiveness of it and ignorance of its might forced me to realize it. All the brave and
gallant deeds of this world boil down to this simple maxim. Fear drives human action. What else would
explain such huge spending on defense, security, missiles, nuclear weapons, leagues, organizations,
treaties, Industrial revolutions? All are done to pacify the native fear of a nation.
I know you are thinking that I am a helpless paranoid, you may be right. But you are still looking at one
side of the coin; I am on the other side. The obverse side is heavier I guess, ahh! And you will say that
you have heard that rosy phrase "two sides of the same coin", I tell you, "its all farcical. Two sides of coin
are not similar; one is truer, heavier and more pertinent than the other. Don't believe me! Check that out
for yourself. Anyways, I fear now that I have displayed enough of paranoia over here and my fear of

Siddharth Shankaran 70
maintaining sanity with a small degree of allowed quirkiness, as this world allows, tells me to get quiet. Ok
as you wish. Bye!

A ride to .

A gift for you on your birthday; a constrained choice of options and possibilities. What shall I gift you?
Shall I weave a dreamland for you or shall I net a fairy tale? I wish to take you to the land unknown; my
pen would love to do so.
Come! Lend me your hands! Hold my hands tight for it will be a long flight into those lands. We are out on
a long journey. Hearken now the gurgling of waters in the stream flowing down, the chirping of birds and
the whistle of the wind welcomes us. Moon shines there, half naked, in the sky. Feel its silhouette on your
face. And now hold my hands tighter for we shall go further now to those distant parts, where no one
knows us.

Clouds shroud the moon intermittently and so does it do with your basking face. Open up your hands wide
and feel the wind on your face, allow it to dissolve you in itself. Watch trees there, reveling in joy with the
wind. Come! We too shall dance with joy and forget the why.

And now the night has grown darker as the moon has faded away. Wind moderates into a gentle breeze.
Lets rest now for a while. Put your head on my shoulders and hear our breaths racing against each other,
listen to the beats of our hearts creating a symphony by taking turns. You lend yourself to me and I take
in the whole. Your warm breath soothes me and makes the cold night bearable.

A symphony arises out of our union and falls on our hearts, spell binding it. Mind goes numb and we get
lost into each other. The journey isn't drawing to close however we get lost, never to be found again. And
in one last moment of sense I kiss your eyes and whisper into your ears, Happy Birthday".

Siddharth Shankaran 71
A lonely night

Loneliness is the poverty of soul. I have had heard that somewhere, and was observing now. A silent roar
was running through my body producing a deafening silence. Things are moving in front of my eyes in one
moment, and in other moment they are still. A chaos was running through my room , things were falling
apart. Strong wind gushed into my room and it became pitch dark. A thunder growled heavily and I
cowered with fear and closed my eyes and ears, and shrieked. Calm down! Peace!

It was all silent again. Order was back into the place. What was it then? An anarchy. A constant beat was
in process, slowly growing in magnitude. Eyes were moist and nose seemed to shrink. All the parts were
together in this grief. I conjured up the days bygone. Seemed like an age bygone. My growing up in my
hometown. My days in hostel. My days in my hometown, and my days here. All of them get mixed. What
is it that I feel low for? Regrets. Regrets. Thats the only common thread in the events. A life of regrets,
since I was born. But which one is it now, for which I lament with such intensity. Walking through the
rubble of broken dreams and promises feels like wading through a swap. Each of them holding me up.
Today was bad and tomorrow would be worse. But why is that which is in yesterday, throwing me in
ashes. Let me jerk off the filth that I have gathered on me, walking through those years. But it feels so
heavy. I couldn't shrug it off. They are too big in size.

Lost in them, I feel my senses getting numbed. Sleep overtakes me in some time and feel the peace of
being what I am . Joy of being alive. Several hours pass this way, and I am lost into my peaceful thoughts
when all of a sudden a memory comes, stalking for me, and I get up with a shout. Its still dark around

Siddharth Shankaran 72
me, darkness which has so many images floating into it. I close my eyes with fear and cover up myself
with a blanket to escape them. Sleep tries to get me in some time and I pray this dark night to end soon
and end this cycle of anxiety. Nebulous thoughts cross my mind and I get lost in my dreams, not knowing,
when again I would be forced to wake up.

A tryst with an innominate stranger

He smiles as I do. As I keep staring at him, he gets embarrassed in some time. The smile on my face
reflects on his face too, but suppressed in its content, trying to smother or feign a pain or anguish. Now,
as I try to move away, he implores my presence in the scene. I turn back and stare deeper into his eyes,
the request drips not from his lips but from his eyes, and drenches my soul.

"You are not to be pitied upon, you are as strong as I am, there is nothing you cannot do, look within your
own self", I snarled. My words seem to have an effect on him and he tries to muster up the courage. He
fills up his heart with fervor, courage and hope. But then all of a sudden, out of blue, an eerie feeling
creeps into him. It sinks him down and he falls down on his knees, begging for a way out of this perennial
burden of pain and anguish.

All of my efforts go in vain and I see him fading away in front of my eyes. The words become meaningless
and vague. He gets dissolved in ether in front of me and I, dejected, at yet another defeat, moved away
from the mirror.

Siddharth Shankaran 73
That Morning ; To Office

As usual, I was late to office and geared my Honda up to reach in time. The shortcut way to the office
didn't have the scourge of traffic; however you couldn't drive fast on these roads pertaining to the
uncertainty of some vehicle appearing out of nowhere. When I reached a comparatively free road and
picked up the speed I saw an elderly guy in car was coming in my direction and waving his hands out. I
couldn't gather his intent; however, he was trying to point out to something that was lying ahead on the
road. Ignoring him I moved further, only to find a woman lying on the center of the road, whining in pain.
It seemed as if she has been hit by the car, but there was no trace of blood nearby. I turned back and
found that the guy in the car was still waving his hands. I pressed my brakes and thought for a moment to
wait over there and help that woman, who I guess, was hit by the car and hence the guy in the car was
pointing towards her. However, with all the zeal I thought of helping that unfortunate woman, and was
about to get down from my bike, when, all of a sudden I took an another deep look at her. She seemed to
be a very poor woman and there was very much a chance that she was dying of some disease and not by
any accident, I reckoned that helping her would be good, but it involved risk of contracting any disease
that she might be having, as well as taking upon myself the risk of getting involved in such cases. In case
something happens to her I would be caught in a fix unnecessarily. I was almost sure that she was going
to die in case she isn't attended by someone now, but I couldn't muster up the courage to help her. I had
to reach office too. I was caught in a fix. Just then I found one milkman coming that way. I stopped and
asked him to help this woman out. At first he was confused and then he smiled and said, "Babu! These
things happen daily, don't involve yourself carry on with your work", saying that he slithered past me. I
was even more dumbfounded. However, at last listening to my mind I got back on my bike and drove
away, consoling my heart with the thought that may be that was her destiny, maybe she was to dissolve in

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this universe today just as we would too, someday. But then as a human being why couldn't I help her
out? I was chagrined at this helplessness. Driving away, I furtively took a look at my rear view mirror and
found that woman lying there, unattended, grimacing in pain. I took my eyes off it, but couldn't do the
same with my heart. It felt heavy, very heavy at this impotency. With a dejected mood I reached office
and pledged to do something about this, after all at least I could have had helped her to die in peace. I
planned of having an organization that would help people dying on roads and at least provide them
assistance to allow them to at least dye in peace. With numerous ideas I climbed on the lift of my office
and stood in it with a despondent face, corroborating a bad morning.

Suddenly, I lifted my face up and found a very pretty face standing there in front of me. Her hairs were
wet, indicating that she had hurriedly left home for office. Water drops dripped of her hair's edge, and
they looked like pearls dripping off. And her face looked so smooth that I just couldn't take my eyes off it.
It was an insolent behavior on my part, and too very unlike me, but I just couldn't take my eyes off her.
She had a thin emaciated, slender body, long face, dry but silvery lips, dark eyes which were calmly
restive. Everything about her was like an indication of beauty in conjunction with calmness and peace. She
wore a salwaar sameej and was dressed all in white. The white color just made her appear as a freshly
bathed angel and suited so much to her contrast, but what unparalleled her looks and gaiety was that she
was totally nonchalant of it. She wasn't conscious of the effect her innocuous appearance was creating. I
just kept on staring at her. A distance of four floors seemed to last for ever. She was looking down, and all
of sudden, as if she felt my eyes on her, she raised her head. Embarrassed, I withdrew my eyes instantly
from her and pretended to look in some other direction. I looked back at her, though furtively, through the
corner of my eye, and found her smiling shyly, at which I too chuckled and smiled from within. I lifted my
eyes back, looked at her and smiled back to her and so did she. It was a sweet serendipity. But not to last
any longer; her floor came up and she moved out of the lift with that same nonchalance that was so
uniquely hers and I just chortled at this serendipity.

Just as I seemed to relish my accidental rendezvous with beauty, the spectacle of me looking furtively
through the rear view mirror, of the women lying on the road, dying maybe, flashed back into my mind

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and I dragged back. I shuddered and my mind went blank. The lift's bell for my floor broke the silence of
my thoughts and I rushed out of the lift, leaving all of them behind in it.

Nocturnal Delight

Rustling of leaves on the tree breaks the deafening silence of the night. The twinkling stars pierce the
darkness. The gentle breeze wafts through the space and blows away the bunch of clouds, thereby
shrouding the Moon. Squirming of its shyness moon glows brighter and bathes the land beneath into its
milky white color.

The fallen leaves on the ground rustle aimlessly with the blowing wind. The boulevard seems to walk on its
own path, shrouded with a mixture of neon and moonlight, and there at a nearby distance an arch forms
itself on it, marking the boundary of its own reach. The boundary keeps shifting as the moon slides away
but the boulevard lies still, with the gentle steps on its path.

Tall trees seem to have a joy of their own, swaying with ecstasy in each direction. Their gentle dance
seems to create a concert of its own, watched by the moon, stars and the boulevard. Coconut leaves are
drenched in moonlight; delicate white pearls are dripping off its edge.
But then suddenly a honking cacophony of horns destroys the spectacle and the gleam of the night is lost
in a jiffy. Everyone wistfully observes the destruction and prays silently to restore it again soon.

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Pining for a lost spring

And suddenly the air begins to drift away in a different direction leaving aside the speculation of its
presence. It blows with a force formidable enough to blow away castles.
Slowly it descends through the plain surface and gets lost into its own wilderness. A ripple forms on the
surface and manifests itself through a smile, and then slowly it gets dissolved amidst the commotion.
While these things happen, she sits there at a hands distance, agnostic of the ripples, the moving away of
breath, the fluttering of lungs and how the 350 gm. piece of muscle beats hard trying to break loose and
burst out.
As the eyes collide, they send a chill down the spine and drown the body into an infinite lull. Amazed at
the spectacle, imagination endeavors to materialize her beauty. It gets defeated. She doesnt resemble a
moon, nor does her radiance equals that of the moonlight. Neither does she stand anywhere near to the
beauty of Cleopatra nor to the Helen of Troy. She stands nowhere near to them. Her eyes arent beautiful.
Her lips arent rosy .Her hairs arent silky.
But there is something quaintly beautiful in that figure right in front. She moves gently sideways to adjust
her sight as if trying to position her weapons before the attack. And then with her sight she rips apart the
soul of the person in front. The beholder bears it all , being all the time at her mercy, and then all of a
sudden ,as though out of pity , she takes her eyes away and radiates a smile conveying her power to rip
souls apart just through her sight.

Approvingly, she listens to all that the beholder utters and then gently refutes all that she heard dissolving
all the hopes of the beholder into oblivion. Apparently, her eyes move in every direction but they are fixed

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upon something, of which only she knows. In the pretension of her bovine nature she wriggles her hands,
as if to break her fingers, or may be she is just emulating a skirmish between the contemporary fingers of
her hands, each trying to outdo other and make tapping noise sometimes in the process.

Who can guess what is crossing through her mind as she shrivels her lips trying to speak something out.
But nothing meaningful comes out .Its not silence nor is it reticence, its complete volubility of words,
albeit, they mean nothing, hiding the truth which the silence beneath the voice speaks. What remains
meaningful only is the spectacle bearing her into its lap.

After creating several turbulences she intimates her desire to leave the platform and lo! All of a sudden
entire body parts rise up, beseeching her to stay, but the lips do otherwise. They cant ask her to stay and
bids her adieu! At this the whole environment militates against her departure. The heart breaks itself into
a million little pieces and the lungs go down fluttering harder, trying to go breathless through rapid
As she departs, head and eyes swivel to watch her move away, her merciless legs carrying her away and
taking along with her all the actions that were going on currently on the platform. Now the place is
desolate .Its vivacity has died now.
A request sneaks out of those lips, Please Dont go!, but in vain, since the air has stopped now and
sound cant be carried in vacuum. The imploring of lips goes in vain and despondent with the loss the legs
begin to turn in other direction. The place is getting back to its eerie environment and every arrangement
is floating away.
Now there is no light, no music, no fragrance nothing, just a dry desolate place, yearning for the moments
that just went by.
Then, out of nowhere, a voice comes in action and implores me to move on, to carry on and get to my
duty and wait for the next season when she will again be here waiting, when again she would look down
and sideways when she finds me coming towards her, when again she will entrap me with her smile and
the place would flourish again and again there will be a mild and silent struggle of organs. And I, content
with these thoughts move out of the desolate place to carry on with my duty, and carrying along with
myself the agony and the ecstasy and the hope that there will be spring again.

Siddharth Shankaran 78

Siddharth Shankaran 79
What If

What if I were a labor born,

With a different hum and a tragic song.
Would've quoted Marx and inspired revolution.
Would've witnessed fall and mired in convolutions.
But who could say, I may have been a Stalin.

Yet, I am a bourgeois child of education,

create wealth and unwary of rations.
Ideas and theories rule my day,
even though I falter and get asway.
But who could say, I may not be one.

I would've born a woman and borne signs of omen,

enamored men and ruled the heavens.
Begotten a child and shape the humans,
and then get crushed under all and lost in oblivion.
But who could say, I may have been a Teresa.

And I am a man, hoping in vain,

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haughty and contemptuous, with both brawn and brain.
Masochist and sad as I tend to be,
I wonder whether that applies to me.
But who could say, I really may not be one.

I would've born a leader,

created, tamed and allayed fear.
Taken own course and bent the ways,
created nations and ideologies that stays.
But who could say, I may have been a Hitler.

And I am a common man, a citizen of a nation,

an idea, passed onto me through generations.
Placed as part of a whole,
I feel in all parts my presence as a hole.
But who could say, I may have been a Sachin.

I could've been many of these and

could've been none.
But what I am, is incidentally, none,
for in being none lies, a mark of my own.

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As the sun fades, and darkness looms,

my cell stays the same, although pain blooms.

Since how long has that calendar not changed

though sun fades and moon wanes.

Time needs no clock here, time needs no time,

time in this cell is all but time.

Drapes filter the lights willing to pour in,

my heart filters further so none reaches my soul.

Incarcerated as I am, my captivator has eloped,

run away taking my will and leaving me in doom.

As I wish the stars to pop up and brighten my view,

I see none but the darkness hazing all things anew.

Quietness portends an imminent brawl,

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which never happens , though I always crawl.

Breaking the barrier of mind, I try to escape,

but there seems no way out and I retrace my path to hell.

Swarm of memories drench me in pain,

yet the river dries up even before it could rain.

Where do I wish to escape, I cant see the light,

futile has been my chase, endless has been my fight.

O! Darkness, emancipate me of your thrall,

let me see the light and ride a free fall.

I wonder who my liberator would be,

as it won't be thou , for you can't exist.

My body wriggles, craving for life,

I soothe it and say , this is your life.

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My moments

Every few moments

I get a sense of being alive.

At times its the sight of beauty,

and mostly its the call of duty,

Beauty lends itself in munificent ways,

from a charming lady to bright sun rays.

Pulses rejuvenate at the sight of it,

defying any morals that may defy it.

Call of duty, puts all aside;

forced to take strident and long strikes.

What lies then in between those moments,

a lethargy, a tardiness an unnamed power, which clips me down and bringeth the silence.

Ahh! Questions come back looming large.

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Am I in search of the peace or do I possess it in those moments.

Or its just an another view of the moment.

I may never know this, and for the moment I shall be the moment,
that lies in my laps.

A paean for her

A dusky beauty, on my laps.

Squirming her body, and fluttering her flaps.

Squirrel eyes and elephantine ears,

laughs at what she sees and all that she hears.

Intermittent though is her smile,

appears to be a laughter wrapped in frivolity.

Pedaling of legs and beating of hands,

weariness of days and waking of nights.

A nose stands tall on her face,

beside the eyes that remains closed with grace.

And then, suddenly, she gazes at your stranger face,

everything stops, though hearts race.

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Tiny, lanky fingers she has, restless as it is,
ready to hold my hand and take a walk through the land.

Her mouth's open wide more often,

willing to swallow all in a moment.

And now, While I weave a paean for her,

she grows weary of me.
And with Petulant lips,
she goes off to sleep.

Sleep! O Beauty!
So that your beauty grows.
And my pen shall wait,
until next time when I can again behold.

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