Monday, 16 April 2018




THIS TIME IT WAS IN A TEMPLE
Something really ugly happened once again in my country.  Religion, the barb of the devil once more hit hard. Eight kilometres away from the kathua’s Rasana village, there now  lies a five-foot long grave of an eight year olds raped and damaged body. Reports say that the Rasana Hindus did not allow the burial pit to be dug in their village saying that the property belonged to them. So in spite of the winter cold of January, the girl’s father had to carry her body uphill to Kanah village to find place for its burial.
As my nation once again grieves such an inhuman act which often arises out of illogical and senseless beliefs and of course colossal greed, I sit and stare at several messages circulating on social media. Some are expressing their solidarity with anger by keeping their display picture black and some are keeping it purple as a memory of the film ‘Color Purple’ which accordingly represented women abused by men. Some are writing poems of grief and some are expressing anger in hate words. It all ultimately hurts deep. A question that keeps coming to my mind is, why did that little innocent girl have to suffer so much?
In 2012, it was in a moving bus, at times it had been in homes and on lonely streets but this time it was the worst. It was in a temple! The victim was a Muslim and the rapists were Hindus. The charge sheet said that she was tortured and killed to scare the community away. It was a revenge story - a story that began in disputes of land and led to vengeance, one that began with disputes of religions and found solace in hate. Hate, that went so very inward that it ruined the capacity to think right. I often wonder at how much the hater must be hurting inside. The ‘Yours and the Ours’ virus corrodes humanity and transforms healthy men and women into animals bereft of the sense of the right and the wrong. The little farm girl who hadn’t been to school to learn numbers but could count her horses, took responsibility that her family’s cattle were brought back to their farmhouse by the time the sun set in the evenings. She was a bold girl who dared to run down rocky terrains through isolated jungles to bring back the lost animals. Little did she know that there were beasts lurking around to devour her innocence, because their minds were parched and they thirsted for blood, because their faith had crossed the line of common sense, because their learning had all gotten wrong since they had been taught that their god was different from her god. Little did she know that the temple where they took her had no god in it but clay fixtures with eyes and ears drawn on them; eyes which couldn’t see her pain and ears which couldn’t hear her screams.
Oh what a pity that the devil has chosen man as his target to destroy man! What a pity that he has made weapons the human eye can’t see; weapons of aversion, lust and greed. This gruesome act of hate reminded me of the famous short story of Leo Tolstoy, ‘How Much Land Does a Man Need?’ Tolstoy had written this piece in the year 1886, expressing futility of man’s greed; and yet after more than a hundred years the story continues to try to edify the ignorant. The Devil in the story hears the tussle of man groping for more than necessary and says, “All right...... We will have a tussle. I’ll give you land enough; and by means of that land I will get you into my power.”  An opportunity arises for the protagonist of purchasing a communal land but it does not find success because, “The Evil one sowed discord among them, and they could not agree.” So then the individuals buy land separately. The protagonist, finally after a lot of debt, manages to purchase land and becomes a land owner. Now, “The grass that grew and the flowers that bloomed there, seemed to him unlike any that grew elsewhere” because it was his land. But soon his peace was to be shattered because the neighbouring peasants began to trespass his fields.....the herdsmen would let the village cows stray into his meadows, then horses from the night pasture would get among his corn.” In spite of turning them out again and again they would not cease and so at last, “he lost his patience and complained to the District Court” although he knew that there was only basic need and no evil in the intent of the peasants. However, his pride and avarice made him think differently. “I cannot go on overlooking it, or they will destroy all I have. They must be taught a lesson.” Gradually scenes changed and his desires became bigger and he continued his new purchases till one day he met an owner who sold land saying, “As much as you can go round on your feet in a day is yours, and the price is one thousand roubles a day” but the condition was that, “If you don’t return on the same day to the spot whence you started, your money is lost.” While asleep with contentment about becoming a very big landowner, the protagonist dreamt of “the Devil...sitting there and chuckling, and before him lay a man barefoot, prostrate on the ground, with only trousers and a shirt on”, and when he looked better he saw that “the man was dead and it was himself!” He awoke horror-struck but brushed aside his dream, as “what things one does dream” and didn’t realize that perhaps it was the voice of his conscience trying to awaken him. Next morning he had to conquer as much land as he could on his feet. His materialism kept him going till he realized that “All my labour has gone in vain”. He lay dead on the ground with “blood flowing from his mouth”. Soon spades were picked up and a grave long enough for him to be buried was dug. “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed”.
As the court trial goes on and the culprit’s faces flash in my face, I wonder how much land will they need when their time is done?
Pic. credits: Google

Sunday, 31 December 2017

A SERENE AND UNRUFFLED LIFE


Storms do exist. It’s not freedom from such storms but the peace within in spite of them that leaves man unruffled. In fact life moves on at peace; it’s man, who in his greed gives rise to storms.

Read a beautiful children’s story today. It was about a community of people who believed that if they gave long names to their children then the length of those names would fetch great fortune for the kids. To exemplify this belief, the writer introduces a family who has named their son, Yani Matadi Utama Karoli Olla Shaki Wondo Khare Lalikhuna.

There is another community which believes in humility and also that only the Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent Power can fetch fortunes and shower blessings for all the hard work that they are made fit enough to do for themselves. To exemplify this belief, we once again get introduced to a family who has named their son Charm because they believe that fortunes do not make life beautiful but a charming personality can do wonders to bring in favours.

Now the two kids often play together and are good friends. It so happens that one day while they are playing, Charm kicks the ball so hard that it rolls and falls into a well nearby. Charm runs to see if he can get it back and as he bends to look into the well, he slips and falls into it. Yani Matadi Utama Karoli Olla Shaki Wondo Khare Lalikhuna runs to Charm’s parents to inform them and seek help for his friend. ‘Uncle, aunty, Charm is in danger. He has fallen into the well. Please come to save him.’ A storm of bad news then suddenly blows out peace from their lives. They run for help to their neighbour and call out to him. ‘Sir, please come and help us to save our son Charm. He has fallen into the well.’ The neighbour rushes out and calls out to the gardener for help. ‘Mr. Gardener, please come to help. Our Charm has fallen into the well.’ The gardener runs along but calls the cleaner for assistance. ‘Oh Mr. Cleaner, please come along with us to save our Charm. He has fallen into the well.’ So we have many people running to save Charm. They reach the well and throw the rope Mr. Cleaner has taken along to pull out the lad and save Charm. They overcome the storm and go back home in peace with their child.

Soon the boys get back to their fun and games and after a few days a similar thing happens again. But this time it’s Yani Matadi Utama Karoli Olla Shaki Wondo Khare Lalikhuna who falls into the well. The same race of help follows and you can imagine the time it would take each character to call out such a long name. Of course, a lot time and energy gets wasted in calling out such a lengthy name and by the time they all can reach the well to save the lad, he is already drowned. The storm here has been successful in its vicious plan of destruction.

As I read this story, a whisper spoke to me. Medals and ambitious attachments of prefixes in honour of one’s deeds or degrees, most of the time, add a load of painful responsibility. They do not necessarily bring in great fortunes but rob one of being fortunate enough to enjoy a beautiful life with all its charming and wonderful gifts of serenity and peace. Instead of choosing the ways of their community, if Yani Maatadi Utam Karoli Olla Shaki Wondo Kahre Lalikhuna’s parents had chosen the way to freedom of choice, they would have not lost their son.

The world is a deep well of greed which robs all excitement of life. It uses the cat logic making us want to fit into the size it presents to us. It wants us to forget that we are made much larger and bigger than the boxes presented to us by the world. We have a choice to demand bigger boxes of existence to fit in a lot of blessings, ample amount of gratefulness, all our excitement of living, a heart full of thankfulness and millions of moments of happiness. 

As I share this story with you my reader, I also share what it taught me. It taught me that the universe has no obligation to make any sense to me. That it’s my duty to make sense of my life for myself because it’s ultimately all about the choices I make that matters. Whether I fix my bedside lamp or decide to bring light to a dark and pained heart somewhere far away unaware of my help, it's my choice. Whether I make my own new path and walk on it taking in all its freshness, or choose to walk the path worn out by thousands of feet ahead of me and feel exhausted and fatigued in its stench of familiarity, it's my choice. As John Ruskin has put it, ‘The common practice of keeping up appearances with society is a mere selfish struggle of the vain with the vain.’ 

A moment of cogitation makes me wonder if the Holy Spirit residing deep in our hearts must be laughing at our stupidity of faith in the words of the world, in stead of submitting to the word of sense ingrained in us as a birthright. ‘For my people have done two evil things: they have forsaken me, the Fountain of Life-giving Water; and they have built for themselves broken cisterns that can’t hold water!’ Jeremiah 2:13

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

PADMINI CAME IN MY DREAM LAST NIGHT




Padmini came in my dream last night. She looked troubled. A part of her face had acid burn marks on it, the sleeve of her dress was torn and her clawed skin underneath was visible. She was not trying to cover it up with any kind of embarrassment like we see most molested women in films do. I felt that she was walking with great difficulty, and yet pride was written all over her face. Her eyes too were wet and red. Probably she had been crying a lot. ‘What did she want?’ I wondered. That pride in her look appeared to not want to bear the burden of the world on her shoulders. She had shirked that honour of sacrifice, because she no more believed that she was a beast of burden, carrying the pride of the men of her world and their so called chauvinist values on her strong shoulders. Her creator had gone all out in his dramatic making. There was tragedy and drama in her life according to him. He had shaped her into an embodiment of love and made her jump into a pit of self sacrifice, the ultimate of womanhood.

I was confused at this visit of hers. Long back somewhere in history I had read about her beauty and how Allauddin Khilji the Muslim invader had gotten attracted to her magnificence and invaded the kingdom of Chittor to take her as his wife. I looked deep into her to have a better look. Yes of course she did look beautiful. It was probably the scars that she wore that added a tinge of attraction to her visage.

Obviously she had something to tell me; why else would she have bothered to come to me in my dream? I looked intensely at her lips to see if they were moving but all I could see was a little tremble. Probably she wanted me to take the initiative. Hesitatingly I began, ‘Look, (I paused and fumbled for words and then as they came to me, I said), I know some bits and pieces of history but I have no authority to ascertain their correctness, because you see, I wasn’t born then. I hope you can understand. Some books say that Khilji defeated the Rana of Chittor in the early 14th century and died soon after. Actually you were not even born then. Am I right?’ Getting no response I continued, ‘weren’t you born somewhere in the mid 16th century in a poetry book of some Sufi, Jayasi who lived very far from Chittor? They say that he created you in his understandings of the longing of man’s soul for his beautiful creator. He made a historical fantasy where he took some factual events and characters and coloured them with his creative imagination. They say that Jayasi belonged to a tradition where love and longing were important parts of life. What were you? Were you really born in the 14th century or were you an imaginary character of a Muslim poet?’

I could see a smirk on her face, and so I continued my questions hoping for an answer. ‘Tell me oh Queen, were you real or just a character of a genre called premakhayam; the Sufi poetry of love? Were you and Ratansen a Sufi portrayal of the sacrifices endured in the name of love for the creator? Was Allauddin Khilji a representation of a world full of its lustful ways?’ I paused my questions waiting to hear an answer. ‘Please do tell me if you were a metaphorical creation, because you are now beginning to scare me’.

By now I could hear deep breaths. It certainly was getting scary. And then it all became human. ‘They burn me today, they kill me because I dare to love, and they rape me to show they are physically stronger! They have never paid attention to me for so many hundreds of years and now suddenly................. these hypocrites; haters of women, misogynists! ......In those days they shamed me. They tied me with ropes of honour, because they always had animal instincts and were scared that the animal in me could be more powerful than theirs. My bravery then, was in making a choice for my life or death. Situations demanded me to jump into the kund in those days. Even today, in many places they don’t allow me education or my choice of work. They leave me with no options. In those days they made my act into a metaphor for bravery and yet today I would never do that. Today I choose to live and fight. It was in fact Jayasi’s thought process that made me so beautifully real. Not that I was not real. My womanhood has always been charming and will continue to be eternal; but must I always be lead to climb to my death? Is killing myself always an answer to prove my worth and honour? My beauty has always attracted the beast in men and then, after all what do they do, they hypocritically immortalise me in books. It has taken them hundreds of years to glorify me after that Bhansali portrayed my character with his creative skills. My descendants suddenly woke up to create a circus of politics around my existence of ‘To be or not to be’. I am; and have always been the most beautiful work of art in creation. In fact, Jayasi in his Sufism created me as unachievable; the beloved God, whom man longs to be in love with. But how many Hindus or Muslims will today understand a Jayasi?  At times they made me kill myself to save my honour and at other times they kill me to save their honour. But today I want to live a life of worth, I want to glorify my spirit, even if they have destroyed me time and again, I want to decide my life, my feelings, my joys. Who are they to tell me whether I can dance or not? They talk of honour, but it’s just their excuse. They don’t want me educated or going out to work. Actually they are scared of my strengths. If I wish to be a pilot, some of them have objections, if I want to be a dancer, some of them again have objections. They want to represent my sacrifice as the pride of all women. Even their educated men believe that the Kund was filled with girls as young as three and women as old as eighty. They soak themselves in pride with such large scale examples of my immolation. Who are they to tell me what I must feel and do? Who are they to tell me what I must wear? How do they know whether I have desires to dance or not? Now after years, Bansali has given me the liberty to feel beautiful and not just be beautiful; and they are angry with him.’

I kept looking at her and listening to her angst. Yes, she was a creation of God and they destroyed her; today she is a creation of man and they want to destroy her again. They fail to give glory to her when she is alive and strive to award her fame in her death.


The poet Jayasi, in his longing for unison with God was believed to have achieved great spiritual powers. I wonder today whether his once upon a time words, of a lotus blooming in a pond being brushed past by a frog living in the same pond and instead a bee from far coming close to it, had prophesy hidden in them. The men of her nation had willingly forgotten her independence; the desires of her humanness, but a Bhansali from far, came and allowed her to express her thoughts as she swirled to soul stirring music. As I was deep in the whirlpool of my thoughts and thinking of how I could be of any help to her, she faded away from my dream and I could hear the birds chirping at my window to announce a new day; a new day, which would allow her to live and rejoice in the times to come. 

As the light of the morning sun filtered into my room through the curtains, I was lit up with hope for a new world; where the new world men would like Jayasi in their search for God, find him in a woman’s heart soaked in his presence. The new Padmini would need more than love for her survival. She would need freedom to live her ways and dance her tunes.
Pic credits: Google

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

GRAB THE MOMENT


How often do we wait for tomorrow to settle issues in our life? Don’t we endlessly wait in our today and convince ourselves that the decision could be made some other day? Some of us have in fact actually made the future our best pal, whereas in reality we should be making today our favourite day. How important it is then, to grab the moment!

Doubts and fears are basically unwanted visitors in our lives. They are the pile-on kind. It depends on our choice to accept friendship with such unwelcomed guests or our capacity and strength to shoo them away.
Opportunities come our way often, but sadly we are most of the time fastened and chained in with locks of ‘Should I?’ and ‘Must I?’ What we need instead are the keys of ‘Let’s Try’ with which we could open up those mutexes and throw away the rackles that bind us to our past.

Let me move on to a scriptural verse that could help in explaining this ‘Let’s Try’ concept better. First of all, if we read scriptures and their stories only as events that happened in the past, it makes no sense. The past is dead and a daily reading of it will not allow us to move on in the present. Unless we relate the past and pick up on its wisdom and make it alive to cherish our present, our scripture time will be a waste.

I often go to the Holy Bible to get answers to daily queries and have come to the conclusion that it is not just a book for those who follow Christianity and are members of some church. It’s a book of wisdom for anyone who needs it and every page communicates with those who have the capacity to open their ears and listen.

In Mark 1:40 we have a leper pleading to be healed; who tells The Lord, “If you want to, you can make me well again.” The answer he receives is, “I want to, Be healed!” So often, in ignorance of our originality, we reduce our princely state into that of  a beggar; not knowing that our creator never ever had anything to do with our lowly position. We need to constantly remind ourselves about how he had made us in His image. He breathed his being into us! Remember? However, in the journey of our life travels, we meet arrogance, ego and overconfidence which urge us to free ourselves from our elevated state of existence in subjugation of the love of our creator. ‘“Come let us break his chains,” they say, “and free ourselves from all this slavery to God.”(Psalm 2:3)

In Mark chapter 2, we see a paralyzed man brought on a stretcher and the Lord tells him, “Pick up your stretcher and go on home, for you are healed!” (Mark 2:11) Now the crux over here is that the man could have said, “Haha, are you crazy? I have been in this position for years. How can I just get up?” Thank goodness he didn’t say that! Instead, he jumped up in faith. “The man jumped up, took the stretcher, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers!” (Mark 2:12)

The uncommon and unattended wisdom here is that, our fears, our troubles, our anger, our sickness, our anxieties have chained us with locks of depressive doubts and keys of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual sickness. What we need is not an acceptance of ‘It’s fine’ kind of resignation and that, ‘It could have been worse’. What we need is the faith to jump up and push through the crowd of stunned onlookers.


Let us therefore make a promise to ourselves, that we will not waste our days working out to making ways in order to worry about all those things that will never happen to us and instead GRAB THE MOMENT.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

BASKETS OF INTELLIGENCE


A group of senior citizens I know, often gather together to enjoy a good breakfast in a garden. Under the shade of a tree, they sit on benches and call for a folding table to spread the menu their loving wives have prepared. It’s quite a bonding time where these old friends laugh out loud and do some breathing exercises before they put into their mouths, health sprinkled with spice of love and affection, all laid out before them.

Today when a basket was brought to be kept on a bench, I noticed it to be an old fashioned kind of a carrier. It was a lovely plastic container, designed aesthetically with big handles to carry all the food placed inside it with great love and care. What drew my attention was not the food therein, because that was all wrapped up and covered with a colourful napkin over it. It was the basket that caught my eye.

My memory, took me some more than forty years back on a balcony where there was a similar basket always kept in a corner with a rope tied to its handles. The little me then, I remembered, indulged in the comfort of shopping from the balcony everyday when the vegetable vendor used to come with a spread of nutritious colours laid neatly over a handcart. He had a typical call, on hearing which all those interested in purchasing food plants, came out on their balconies for a good shopping experience. Bhaji kaka (Vegetable uncle) is what we called him then. So many eyes would be looking down and making a mental pick of their day’s requirements and then shouting out their orders loud and clear for him to make note of. The funny part was that we all knew what would be cooking in the neighbourhood homes for the day. The baskets would be let down with the right amount neatly placed inside for the purchase, and the vegetables would be placed in exchange for the money and the strings would be pulled up gently. As a little girl it was all so much of unique fun for me.

As I grew up, the construction patterns in the city changed over time and the balconies disappeared and so did the baskets. Today I stand in long queues in malls pushing trolleys with the food purchased with every item stuck with its price on it. I still haven’t got myself ready for the latest convenience of ordering my culinary requirements online simply because I prefer to work on my tactile and visual senses before every purchase.

Suddenly the basket on the bench made me realise how the supermarkets had replaced Bhaji kaka and the trustworthy connection between the buyers and sellers. We almost had shared a relationship with him. He knew our tastes and often reminded us that he had brought what we liked. ‘The tomatoes today are real red and juicy. They will make a delicious soup’, he would call out to my granny standing three floors above on the balcony; straining her eyes to see well. The basket saved her the inconvenience of going down the stairs and climbing up again. The dropping down of the basket and pulling it up when pregnant with food was my delight. It was like a game for me, one which never bored me. Also, it was a skill to get it up steadily without it swinging with its overflowing colourful contents. When I had successfully pulled it up and granny had the handles in her grip I could see an understanding flow out of the senior eyes, both, the ones standing next to me on the balcony and the ones looking upwards from down below. As compared to such a dependent experience of those days, today’s shopping malls have given me comfort and better convenience, but Bhaji kaka’s love and blessings are missing, just like the missing basket.

Bhaki kaka’s communication skills were a delight to learn from by simply observing him and the way in which he coped with life, people and situations. He filled baskets with his goodwill. Over a period of time he had become our family’s balcony friend.

Today, as the friends settled down to unload the contents of the basket into their hungry plates, I couldn’t stop thinking about the unzipped possibilities open baskets could have. Fashion repeats itself and these baskets have come back in style. Imagine if we were to once again like the olden days, carry baskets filled with love, what infinite possibilities we could have, to create change in our lives! If we delved deeper into these baskets of love we could find therein trust and understanding along with simple sharing and caring; emotions largely lost to many today. We could put in agreements and remove any overloading and unhealthy grievances. We could call them baskets of intelligence which would allow time for open exploration of kindness and intimacy.

Metaphorically, we could use this basket as our life and put into it anything that we desire or even pull out what has been mistakenly put into it due to our negligence.

A basket with good food in it would be so very full of life in itself. To carry it along and walk towards a tree to sit underneath it, would be so much better than going to a restaurant and searching the menu card there.

We certainly need to have some open baskets to carry around on our journey; baskets to fill in love, baskets to drop in care, baskets to pack with understanding, baskets well arranged with sympathy, baskets overflowing with forgiveness, mercy, magic of wonderful memories, kindness, and baskets to gather in them promising great humans.


(Picture credits: Google)

Sunday, 29 October 2017

THE CHEESE OF HUMANITY


One learns more from suffering than one learns from happiness; and failures too are better teachers than success.

The recent warning from the North Korean foreign minister regarding the nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean is one more lesson of pain which perhaps the world is getting ready for.

Peace has begun to pray that the rising tensions between North Korea and the US may not ever see the most powerful detonation of a hydrogen bomb.

This potential happening brings to my mind a story which I had often heard as a child and which laboured to teach that fight only led to sad faces at the end of the day.
The story, ‘A clever monkey and two cats’, showed two greedy and angry felines fight over a flat round cheesy bread and then aptly jumped in a clever monkey to make peace between the two, offering to bite off the pieces of the flat bread and make even distribution. In his conniving attempt of fairness he kept biting into the bread filling up his ever hungry tummy and working to make the loaf into a visibly equal share for the foolish cats. Finally when just a little bit was left, the understanding of futility of warring dawned on the foolish cats who then thought it better to have a little of what was left rather than let it all go into the clever monkey’s stomach. The smart Simian then took away the last bite also, demanding it as his fees for his greedy labour.

It’s amazing that a world educated on the sorrows of the two horrendous world wars has no flinching before moving onto the third one. The lessons of history seem to have been lost to the pompous politicians and history is getting ready to repeat itself.
It’s a fearful moment with the potency of total annihilation that the world at large is ignoring and perhaps even blinded too.

At this moment I realize the depth of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ which ends with the words, “Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.” These temptations are so varied! Those of ego and pride, those of earthly desires of temporary treasures which will in time erode away. All those ideologies leading to violence and those evil thoughts leading to deep darkness!

This super intelligent age in which man is making cosmic mats to attract aliens on this planet and make them feel at home is all set up with the nuclear arrows to destroy his human neighbour.

This super conscious world, with all its knowledge of food and nutrition has astonishingly forgotten all about the food that enriches one’s soul.

Humanity today is at stake and the voice of conscience keeps knocking at man’s door but he is engrossed in making choices of wine and pleasure at his neighbours. His ears strain to hear the call of the world and he turns deaf to the call of his Spirit which is in jeopardy of getting lost.

This man’s self-destructive capacity is certainly one of a kind. The evil sufferings of the two World Wars left him empty. To survive, he cleansed that emptiness with forgiveness, for there was no other alternative for moving on; but the vacuum remained. He should have filled that empty space with lessons of ‘never again’ but instead he filled the hollow with perishable joys.

“This evil nation is like a man possessed by a demon. For if the demon leaves, it goes into the deserts for a while, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the man I came from.’ So it returns and finds the man’s heart clean but empty. The demon finds seven other spirits more than itself, and all enter the man and live in him. And so he is worse off than before.” Matthew 12: 43, 44, 45.


A few hopeful questions which keep probing my mind are, ‘Will this humanity give up to the strength of the devil, or will it grab back the cheesy Bread and chew on it to survive?’ ‘Will it understand that in every war, the Devil takes away the cheese of humanity?’ Today the call for man is urgent. There is a pressing need for him to transform from being a human being to being human.
(pics. courtesy: Google)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

BEING COMPOSED IN PEACE


What can man do to accept change within himself and the society in which he lives? This question for me got answered as I watched an  Oscar- winning Iranian Movie, ‘The Salesman’ directed by Asghar Farhadi.
Unfolding the drama, ‘The Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller, within its story, the movie speaks about how an individual can be defined by a single event. The story of a young Iranian couple, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneth Alidoosti) who shift to a new home, is of order in life versus disorder that suddenly drops into the normalcy of living like a bomb. Rana is violently assaulted when she is in the bathroom because a stranger suddenly enters her privacy. It is a case of character drop due to temptation of the man and obvious repulsiveness on the part of the woman.
The details of the what and the how are not revealed to the viewers. Much is left to imagination when Rana is shown with wounds on her head on the hospital bed. Emad wants to lodge a police complaint but Rana refuses in obvious fear of reliving the incident to strange official men. Her expressions however show deep emotional wounds. Apparently, the apartment earlier belonged to a promiscuous lady and therefore the incident. It was a case of mistaken identity and momentous temptation.
Emad then moves on with his own amateur detective search and succeeds only to find a senior citizen as the culprit. The man when caught realises the denial and contradiction of his real self and his portrayed self to his family. He has an old wife and a daughter of marriageable age. An apology follows, but Emad wants revenge. ‘You have to admit what you did to my wife to your family’, is the demand, if an apology is to be granted. The old man gets sick and goes through trauma due to a faint heart. Rana then enters the scenario and tells Emad to let go of the old man. She wants no kind of revenge. In fact she strangely warns Emad that if he reveals the filth of the old man to his family, they will part ways.
On the peripheral level it all seems strange. An obvious question anybody would ask would be, ‘Why let the accused go?’
The Arthur Miller play running alongside shares a similar tale of a fifteen year old affair before the real time of the play. Miller too focuses on the aftermath of an affair. In the end his protagonist commits suicide being unable to deal with the change in himself; a different self from what he would want everybody else to believe. In the movie too the old man gets a stroke after Emad behind closed doors gifts him a tight slap for what he had done to Rana.
Rana’s letting go of the criminal is a letting go of revenge and pain that it would cause to his family women. It’s a humiliated woman after all, who understands what humiliation feels like and does not want two other innocent women to suffer like she has.

The last scene is where the artists, Emad and Rana are shown getting ready for another show of Miller’s play in which they play the dramatic characters of Willy the protagonists and his wife. The make-up artist is shown colouring their faces. Life has to move on, as one has to make up for the loss or the differences one goes through in the process of living. One has to make up in the end to replace the pains one has suffered in the past. The only constant in life being change; it becomes mandatory for man to accept it in peace. And composure of peace can only be achieved when brushes are dipped in colours of forgiveness; because the show must go on.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

THE TRUTH IS



Sometimes the most ordinary moments in life whisper to us a great truth and something very small indeed reveals the big picture.

It was a casual charging of a mobile that triggered the thought process. I was requested to plug the mobile for charging.

“Please would you plug the mobile for charging? It’s the second switch.”

 I did as I was told but the switch was wrong and so I changed the plug placement and kept it in another socket of the third switch. The charging began.

 “It’s not the second switch’, it’s actually the third one.”

“But it is the second switch” was the prompt reply.

“Oh you mean the second switch from the left; I thought that you meant the second switch from the right.”

The conclusion was that there were two truths in this case and both were right. To think of it though, how could there be two truths? Truth could only be one.

And here is when the voice whispered into my ear of understanding; "Some worship the Sun because for them it is the life giving source and some worship the Moon; but the truth is that they are both placed in the sky for the benefit of man by the One and only One Truth – The Creator."

In the case of the switches too, both the perspectives were correct. It was the second switch. One was second from the right and the other was second from the left but the current passed into them from one electric board.

Wisdom urges us therefore to recognise our ignorance and bow in all humbleness to the awareness of truth which is far superior to any information because information depends on dimensions of understandings but the truth always IS.

“He assigned the moon to mark the months, and the sun to mark the days.” Psalm 104:19


“O Lord, what a variety you have made! And in wisdom you have made them all! The earth is full of your riches.” Psalm 104:24

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

INDIA BLEEDS IN HER SCHOOLS


The institutes of learning where our children spend a large chunk of their day have sadly been stamping memories of fear, anger, disgust and sadness on young minds. A child dies by falling from a second floor corridor of a school, another is raped in the premise of learning, one more we learn has been periodically sexually assaulted by a bus cleaner in the schools toilet and yet another gets killed in a schools washroom.
Our schools are scrambling to match top-class world education systems but have forgotten the distinguishing feature of education namely; the well-being of the students.

Many of our so called good schools are shockingly, breeding grounds of sexual, physical and emotional abuse; these being the dangers that lurk in the seemingly safe environment of some schools. Surprisingly this evil is not limited to hinterlands where lawlessness is commonplace, but is routinely found today even in the metros.

Perhaps we have not got our priorities in the correct order. Parents wanting to give the best to their children look out for International Baccalaureate courses within premises which resemble five-star hotels than a school; which are in fact more of little corporate worlds rather than humble institutes of learning. A large number of private schools have mushroomed today in the name of autonomy, but do parents even feel curious enough to find out about the laying of the Corner Stone of such educational institutes where something has gone horribly wrong? It is obvious that a lot of dubiously accumulated wealth is invested for social respectability in many such schools whose primary motives are far from imparting knowledge. These are stone structures set up by unscrupulous individuals with individual motives of directing their coloured wealth to be hidden under uniforms of respectability.

Education today has become a business. Schools are advertised on hoardings and on buses. It’s all a world of show!  It’s all about a service industry serving the most important citizens of a country – its children; but serving them in a care a damn and a sub-standard manner.

There has to be something dreadfully incorrect with a society that puts the emotional and physical safety of its children the lowest in its priority list. Such behaviour is nothing less than criminal neglect.

The problem here is certainly not a superficial one; it has its roots deep in the principles of a nation as a whole; a nation which celebrates its teachers irrespective of their quality. How many teachers today care to know their students and are willing to give them a ear before they hurry to their tuition classes? In fact teachers who can be closest to the students are themselves many a times a major cause for their failures.

Sadly this profession of service has remained not truly a value based or a moral one for all. Many schools today are grounds where the caretakers and educators are often found responsible for leaving emotional scars on maturing minds.

The clarion call today needs to be for institutions which have a faculty ready with preparedness of voluminous scholarship and a bulk of care for the students. After all it’s the children who are the future of the world; they desire new learning and have hidden anguish for their surroundings. If allowed, they will change the world; however they need ground to work on. The future of our generations is then in our classrooms and the conversations we have therein. 

Image courtesy: Google 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

ABOVE THE APPEARANCES OF MEN AND WOMEN

What is it in a movie that makes it a masterpiece? Is it some deep inner longing which when seen on screen gets recognition and makes the film fantastic? Or is it something totally different?
In my opinion, a masterpiece of a movie is the one which breaks new grounds and makes us scratch our heads enough to make us rethink about relationships which are largely left undefined by the society. Another thread in the fabric of a great work is that it’s about life and life is not all about being moral and upright always, though that is what everybody must aspire for. So, if a masterpiece is to reflect life, it need not be all of a moral story. It could in fact be a morally dubious work of creation making the viewer critically observe nuances of reality.
‘Carol’ is in the above terms a Masterpiece indeed, because it urges the viewer to think about something larger than the story unfolding on the screen. It’s like a dive in the hearts of those who are different or who become different due to the influences of time. It’s a story about something remarkable and timeless about the human conditions of facing domination, neglect and loneliness amidst the crowds.
It’s definitely a good story; though many viewers in ways of rigid observation would consider it immoral. However, at the end of all said and done, ‘Carol’ succeeds in capturing the attention of the viewers. There are moments in the film which capture time and transform it into timeless memories which stick on and don’t seem to leave the heart and the mind of the viewer even much later.
‘Carol’ is a story that made me look above the appearances of men and women as different sexes and notice instead, just hearts in different bodies. Hearts which are made to love and desire love in return. We have then ‘Carol’, with love as its theme; a love which every woman is always in search for.
So ‘Carol’, a film set in the 1950’ has its protagonist Carol (Cate Blanchett) going through a separation from her husband who believes he loves her but is unable to understand her emotional needs. It’s a love story of a very strong woman who probably defines love as understanding, care and respect for individual thoughts of the other. It’s a story taking place far away from my country India, and yet not surprisingly I see similarities of what is currently happening around on the land where I stay. Ironically, a section of the women in my country are debating over the injustices of the Triple Talaq (where a Muslim man pronounces the word ‘divorce’ 3 times in a row and gets separation from his wife forever). I wouldn’t be surprised if after watching ‘Carol’, many of these women were to lose faith in their men and prefer to begin love affairs with other women who have suffered similar fates like them, simply because there would be at least an understanding and respect in such a relationship. Of course it would be considered immoral by large numbers, but when a society fails to guide its men on the journey of being human, could the women be considered immoral simply because they seek understanding in love?

In the course of the film, we are vaguely introduced to her friend Abby who is also her child’s Godmother; but in the process of the story we learn that Carol had a relationship with Abby when they were young. Perhaps Carol had seen not a very pleasant figure of a father and therefore had sought companionship with Abby, a friend who would be a more understanding person. But then, confirming to the “normal” ways of the world she did get married to Hugh and gave this man-woman relationship a try. However, not being able to get the much desired respect, understanding and friendship, which have to be components of a marriage, she felt attracted to Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), a young woman. Therese is the young lady who moves on with her boyfriend in spite of his loving control and dominating role of being in charge of the woman in his life, till she meets Carol. The two women, in spite of their age differences are able to connect in a deep understanding of their absolutely different personalities and bond enough to become lovers.

‘Carol’ is a story with complicated consequences; a love affair forbidden because it’s between a female photographer and an older woman going through a difficult divorce. It’s a film which has made space for itself and for women wanting to get out of the clutches of a Patriarchal society.

Probably it’s when women are too burdened with the know-all men in society, that they driven to fill the role of men in their lives and replace them with understanding women who are not just lovers but loving friends too.

Since the film is not all about the regular and “correct” beliefs of the society, it could be a trouble watch. As we watch the two women protagonists struggling to free themselves from the clutches of male domination, we realise that relationships tend to become cold when partners are taken for granted.  However, when the woman seeks and finds love once again but from another woman, she gets labelled in the court as a ‘morality clause’ – Carol has a daughter whom she loves deeply and is fighting for her custody rights in the court.  

Memorable gestures, like a turn of the head, a well manicured hand holding a cigarette, and eyes that speak a complicated love-story between a married woman; a mother of a little girl; so small that she is simply unable to even understand why her parents can’t be together and Therese, a young............ – ‘like something flung out of space’ ....kind of lady, helps hold the film in the mind of the viewers even after they have left the theatre because every heart whether loved or unloved, somewhere deep down understands a longing of this emotion.

When Carol’s husband Hugh forces her to choose between Therese and their child, Carol can be seen shattered. She knows that if she continues with Therese, she will lose her child on morality grounds, but as time passes by, she understands that if she loses Therese and wins the custody of her child, she will probably not be happy enough to make her child feel happy always. Then, in a rare moment of even rarer courage, she decides to not fight a battle for the custody of the child but demands regular visits.

The authority, with which she lets go of her right as a mother, shows that only someone who loves deeply can let go the depth of attachment.


‘Carol’ is indeed a story that resonates within us well past those wonderful moments spent in air-conditioned theaters; because it touches our warm hearts.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

WHEN THE WORLD CELEBRATED WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY ...- REALLY?




Many a times answers to pertinent questionable happenings in our world, trouble an entire nation getting it caught up in books of law and order. It’s then the storytellers in all their simplicity and interest of simply engaging a reader into a thought process, who surprisingly step ahead and give us the much needed answers in the form of entertainment.

The recent protests and appeals of the Muslim women in the courts of law and order against Triple Talaq, where the practise of divorce becomes a mockery when a man by simply announcing the word ‘divorce’ vocally three times in a row is able to nullify his marriage to a woman, are objections much in need of consideration this ‘Women’s Equality Day’. This kind of a separation can definitely not be acceptable in a modern intellectual world where marriage is a commitment between two adults who come together with a mutual understanding of living together. When this coming together of the two needs an agreement from both, the parting naturally must also consider a mutual assent or at least a mutual reasoning.

When the Supreme Court a few days ago favoured gender justice striking down the controversial practice of talaq-e-bidat or instant talaq, where Muslim women in recent times had been divorced over messages, phone calls, e-mails and letters, it surely was a ‘feather in the cap’ kind of feeling for the women who had been protesting against the injustice towards them in the name of religion. Thanks to education that such a practice has today begun to be understood by law and many others as a socially unacceptable practice and the court and people of moral integrity jointly have gathered courage to stand up against it.

However, it is not admirable when certain men in our country still hold tight to the infallibility of their religious texts. The modern world needs to implore such minds which are stuck up rigidly in the past and get them to move and be flexible to allow humane changes to happen. We must also not overlook the fact that when such practices are allowed to continue they cause pain not only to the present generation but also to the ones in future. If man’s education fails to promote him towards positive change, respect for one another and equality, it is all nothing but a waste.

Rabindranath Tagore in his short story ‘ Minu’, throws light on such rigid religious thinkers . In the story, Minu sitting at the window sees a tree regularly not blossoming. Since she loves nature, she pleads to her maid to go and dig up the earth around that plant and water it so that it will flower. But the plant continues to not have a single bloom and the mystery finally detected is that a Brahmin priest every morning arrives with a basket and shakes the tree in a manner of a tax collector taking away all the fresh blossoms. When Minu sees this, she pleads with the Brahmin priest, ‘Oh Brahmin, for whom do you gather these flowers?’ The Brahmin answers saying it is for God that he collects the flowers daily. Minu then argues with him telling him that God himself has gifted the flowers and surely wouldn’t want them back as gifts. On hearing her, the Brahmin goes away frowning. The sad part of the story is that he is back at the tree the following morning ‘shaking it with all his might’.

Similarly, one of the leading Islamic organisations in India, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind struck a defiant note only a day after the Supreme Court set aside the practice of instant tirple talaq saying that the practice would not be stopped in the country, “If you want to punish the person for it, you can do so but the divorce will be recognised”.

What can we derive from such an approach, but that such an attitude is nothing but like the Brahmin in all his lack of understanding the one he worships, coming back to the tree and ‘shaking it with all his might.’


When religious people enter the house of worship which preserve authoritative and indisputable doctrines, do they also need to leave their brains behind as they leave their shoes at the doorstep?

Saturday, 29 July 2017

IS THE RAIN FALLING ON EMPTY STREETS?


Every rainy season, Mr. Azim Premji’s words, “Now the rains fall on empty streets”, come to my mind. A few years back I had been invited to judge an elocution competition at a SoBo school in Mumbai. One of the topics then was ‘A Rainy Day’ and to be honest not very much to my surprise, the kids spoke of umbrellas, raincoats, colds and coughs; and that was all. As I was listening to them, I kept hoping that at least one of them would say that she loved the rains and then as if an angel had overheard my wish, a sweet little girl said just that. It indeed brought a twinkle of joy in my eyes. “Wow”, said my mind thinking about two things simultaneously, “the rains are still loved and angels are around.  If this little girl enjoys the wet season, then surely there have to be many more who love to sing and dance in the rains.” But then my mind began to think that if it were so, why hadn’t the other children expressed a similar love enthusiasm?

When after the event I was given a few minutes to chat up with the kids, I asked them the question which was refusing to leave my mind. The obvious answers were, ‘If I catch a cold, I miss school’, ‘Mum is worried that I’ll get sick’, and the barrage of parental threats and worries is all that I got to hear.

Later when I had to round up my observations, I shared with them some of the moments I had enjoyed in the rains during my school days. Rains for me then meant no umbrellas or raincoats but cold showers of nature. Rains meant becoming a human boat and wading through floods. It used to be fun! Rains meant hot dudhi halwas, potato chips and onion bhajiyas. Rains meant making paper boats and letting them go free to search their destinations. Those were the moments when the heavens opened up the skies to pour out showers of blessings on a thirsty me. A rainy day morning had music in itself for my ears. Even today I love getting drenched in the rains; after all, there is certainly no specific age limit to get drenched in waters falling down from God’s abode and enjoy. A simple walk in the rains is like a dance with nature where ones partners are the branches of the trees moving to the rhythm of the universe. Even today, these are the moments which leave an imprint on my mind time and again.

Perhaps the rains which stress out the present parents with the fear of sickness and missing out on school did the same to my parents too. I’m sure that when I reached home bone wet, my mother making hot vegetable soup or ginger tea was a precautionary way of abetting the fear of the colds and the coughs. Whatever it was, the rains were the most joyful and exciting moments to be remembered. The sound of rain drops even today energizes me to go out for a walk without an umbrella; the thunder and lightning revitalize the gloom of the summer heat. But today as I look around and see empty streets where nobody comes out to dance in the rains, I feel that the environment is under a threat of insults. I hear the muffled whispers of children wishing that the chains of restrictions could be broken. I feel sorry that the present system of living has destroyed their peace and left the streets vacant.

We are today pumping ourselves with knowledge and neglecting the most basic need of connection with nature which adds to our lives cheerfulness, pleasure, gladness and indulgence in perfect proportions. In spite of all our knowing that we are a part of nature, we have cut ourselves from it and become alone in the company of humans.  Again, we all know that humans are in the clutches of aggression unlike nature which has a recipe of satisfaction, love and rest. If we were to pay attention to theoretical studies, we would quite clearly observe that modern health statistics show concern for depressive human beings whereas nature encourages man simply in the thrill of its company.

When the skies begin a communication, all life gets to hear healing. Probably, before science and technology imprisoned us in chains of gadgets, we enjoyed the rains at a completely different level. Even today when the showers from above fall on the earth, they fulfill an intimate connection between the physical and the spiritual. This season offers us year after year an opportunity to realize our connection with the elements of nature which are the building blocks of our physical body. If we were to move one step further from this physical manifestation of grace falling from the skies, without which life on earth would not be able to survive, we can at least attempt to understand the cosmic grace which continues to fall on us consistently and is not just seasonal. As the rains drench the earth transforming it with a new life energy, the cosmic grace too attempts to drench us with its power of transformation. But, are we hiding and sheltering ourselves under an imaginative precautionary shade and letting our fears hinder a change from happening? 

After I had finished sharing my experiences of this beautiful season with the children, the In-Charge of the institute gave a vote of thanks and at the end she did not fail to remind the children to not forget their umbrellas and raincoats to shelter themselves from the monsoon.


Pic. Courtesy : Google

Saturday, 22 July 2017

SURROUNDED BY THE HIMALAYAN KNOWLEDGE OF FORGIVENESS


The irony of war is that it destroys the meaning of life in site of victory, because in reality it gives only a fake layer of temporary delight. A beautiful creation called life gets lost in the wind of hatred; and strangely, people keep talking about the end which is 'so close' and instead of learning to live with love, they prepare themselves to learn to die.

Again, there are so many inner battles to fight which are far greater than those fought outside. Military achievements are superficial exultation celebrating the life of a few survivors damaged internally for eternity. Whereas the triumph of the soul with the weapons of forgiveness and compassion brings the prize of eternal peace and harmony.

There are life performances happening all around us which require us to dive deep in order to understand them. Making life or destroying life definitely points in opposite directions. As we see hatred running all around us at top speed, we are most likely to be puzzled as to why it fails to catch up with the speed of love.

This is the clutter of emotions I find myself submerged in today. Two recent happenings in India, got me focused enough to get into the range of my hearing, a thoughtful whisper.

A Pakistani couple bid a teary farewell to India after their four and a half month old son recovered from a complex heart surgery. Taking a flight back home to Lahore after a month long stay in India, the couple expressed their gratefulness to the country whose doctors had been instrumental in the recovery of their child. The child with a hole in his heart had a rare chance of survival because his heart was pumping blood without oxygen and his body was turning blue with continuous bouts of pneumonia. It was only after a five hour long surgery that the boy did fully recover.

These lucky parents got to travel to India in spite of the prevailing climate of hostility and returned with great spiritual strength of love, to the land they call home. However, at this same time nearly two hundred school children were evacuated to safety in bullet proof vehicles in Nowshera sector amid heavy shelling on three villages along the border by the Pakistan army.

With such diametrically opposite happenings of some worthy and unworthy acts of life, I couldn’t but help wonder as to how some men seem to ceaselessly pump the blood of hatred and revenge without oxygen of love and forgiveness. Don’t they know that they will never find rest until they learn to finally let go of hatred and hurt that has taken residence in their hearts? Unfortunately the answer is ‘no’; because these are the damaged people themselves, and it’s this damaged personality that causes them to move further into destruction. They live in zones of pain and therefore it’s very unlikely for them to even think of themselves as wrong. They therefore take no responsibility of their actions; neither do they have any understanding or concern for the damage they do. They are dwellers who live even today in structures of a painful past which has robbed them of all happiness and joy of the present and future.

Someone may ask, ‘Is India a fool to constantly help those who don’t care for her, and instead repeatedly come to cause her pain?’ Certainly not! India has grown on the soils of love surrounded by the Himalayan knowledge of the strength of forgiveness and the immense depth of the waters of peace and therefore she continues to heal holes in hearts.

Friday, 14 July 2017

THE FOX AND THE GRAPES - A TWIST IN THE TALE FOR A HAPPY WORLD


When one afternoon, a fox was walking through the forest, he spotted a bunch of grapes hanging from over a lofty branch. “Of course”, he thought, “this is exactly what my parents, my teachers and my friends would want me to reach up to.” So his endeavours to succeed in getting those grapes began. He jumped high, and then a little higher and then the highest he could, but he couldn’t reach the bunch of grapes. “Bother!” he exclaimed. “They’re probably sour anyway.” Moving on with his journey he continued to search for something else to eat.

When Aesop wrote this little fable, he probably had the youth of the future in mind. He had prophesied a great truth through the fable to which the new world gave a new moral. As this new world told its youth this beautiful story of the essentials of movement in life, it instead focused on stagnation. It claimed that it was always easy to despise what one could not have, and that failure at success often suffered this ‘sour grapes’ syndrome.

True that nothing comes easy in life, true that hard work is essential and true that one must aspire to gain success; but the question is, must one be unhappy if one’s attempts to succeed fail? Must one move with a long face and suffer for eternity for not having reached the goal? Must one get stigmatized for life and be ostracized from the world of successful people to the extent of falling into a deep well of depression?

Misinterpreting the Fox and the Grapes story has led our schools and homes to neglect emotional development. Today we are aware of depression and lay emphasis on it on the World Health Day, but in reality we focus on its suppression and not its expression. Depression today is considered globally one of the leading causes of morbidity amongst the youth. These are the unspoken emotional troubles that regretfully lead to self-abuse and suicide. Obviously then, this invisible disorder needs more attention.

The World Health Organisation estimates that today millions are affected by depression for life. Research states that globally 322 million have depression. This sadly makes up 4.4% of the world population and it is found more in women (5.1%) than in men (3.6%).

Several causes have today been recognized to cause depression. It could be due to an imbalance in brain chemistry which may be triggered suddenly or over time by genetics, it could be because of hormonal changes or chronic illnesses or stress of grief or an inability to face difficult circumstances.

Strangely those who get help in this disorder are only the tip of the iceberg. Today suicide is the leading cause of death among the young. Ironically, it’s an inexpensive and easy to treat illness which is taking lives. We have to work to remove the stigma attached to this illness which prevents people from seeking help and treatment.

A twist in the tale therefore is the need of the hour today. We need to retell the story of The Fox and the Grapes to our children.  This time though we could tell them that it was alright for the fox to be unable to jump high enough to reach the bunch of grapes. The society today needs to learn to accept the foxes who can’t reach the bunch of grapes. Our inability to face failures shows how unripe we are in our vision of success because though we have learnt that ‘Failure is a stepping stone to success’, we have failed to accept failure in a mature manner. 

Failure involves emotions of sadness, shame and regret which lead to exhaustion, fatigue and depletion. At a time like this, the one who has failed needs someone to share this sadness with, but the society has done just the opposite. It has encouraged concealment of emotions. The society pressurises its individuals to hide their emotions arising out of failure and such undercover behaviour in turn leads to aggressiveness; the worst towards oneself.


If we wish to create a happy world, we will have to change the understanding of our relationship with the material things we strive for. A question we need to ask ourselves then is, ‘Are the bunch of grapes an end in them self?’ If we can get an answer this, then we will have no need to sulk and grieve if we cannot jump high enough.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

HAVE YOU MET A JONATHAN KOSHY?


Jonathan's friends remember him as a man who has grown up on his own; ‘Life was his Parent and Pain his teacher’.
The initial chapters move slow, documenting Bandra in her good old days. She is painted in words all over the pages; her people, her roads, her churches with her Christmas and Easter celebrations, her community feelings, her gas and kerosene lit street lights and her film star bungalows, all step out of the book like a film.

Certainly a work of genius, Waiting for Jonathan Koshy digs deep down into the heart of a man; a man for whom all is fair in love and war; a man who has the capacity to transform a tragedy into a comedy, a man who can become a villain hero, and a man who is always a ‘youth on call’.

Shroff’s Jonathan is no ordinary character though. Throughout the story he comes out as someone who is a survivor in spite of oceanic waves all around him, rising tall enough to drown him. He has strange workings indeed. He can make a recovery gangster believe in karma by instilling ideas of professional change in his mind and help him find his ‘true calling’. He is a man of sure risks when he opens the gates of his friend Anwar’s house to the wildness of two hundred locals who have ‘blood in their eyes, fire in their hearts’. Only a Jonathan could think of a history lesson in the midst of a riot. He could touch the ‘right chords’ and convert ‘rioters into protectors and saviours’ and gangsters into helpers. Probably we all have sometime or the other seen a Jonathan in our life and loved him so much to wait for him to arrive again and again.

Jonathan is the neglected child of a world filled with demons. He is a young abandoned man who takes to the world with feelings of ownership ‘without responsibility, without fear’. In his lonely moments he goes to a whore and ends up celebrating her birthday.

In short, ‘Waiting for Jonathan Koshy’ is the story of a man with mixed longings, mixed appetites and mixed emotions and that’s exactly what makes him human. With a childhood that longed for parental care, he observes and appreciates the same in birds. ‘Crows make best parents, did you know? They build the strongest nests and tend to their young till such time as they can look after themselves’, obviously these were the overwhelming thoughts of an untreated and an unhealed wound.

Jonathan’s connections open up to the reader a hidden world of the not so lucky ones. A world where the poor and the helpless are left with no options; but, Jonathan cares for them. He takes Varun, the son of a prostitute, to be counselled by a non-profit organization, convincing him enough to step back from getting castrated and becoming a eunuch for the love of his mother and enter the flesh trade of a different kind. Its Jonathan always, who thrives on ‘doing good all the time’ pushing his readers to think about their own contribution to the world.

There are moments where the book works as an awakening guide for parents, throwing light on parental acts of betrayal which affect children; parental behaviour which lead to deep-seated anger, so deep that the victim feels no need ‘to shake’ it off with therapy.

In all seriousness, Shroff allows humour to sprinkle a shower of smiles on tensed reader brows, such as when people begin to worship Jonathan’s snake image planned to terrify them about Aids. They come with folded hands to worship the icon meant to create a totally different effect; a total boomerang of his plan. Puzzled at the behaviour of the religious minded, he compares his country with a woman and says, ‘I also figured out that India is a woman, a puzzling, enigmatic woman. Try as you might, you can never figure her out. You can love her, yes, or feel frustrated by her, but you can never fully understand her.’

Asking some of the most important questions about life, Jonathan turns philosophical. He claws at our hearts when he fathers to his own old man, who had abandoned his mother for a younger woman; the one who suddenly fell out of the boat of love and humiliated him as he continued to refuse in all his stubbornness to step out of his sinking love vessel.

The story envelopes along with the life of Jonathan, stories of all the women connected to him. Karuna Koshy, Jonathan’s mother, is a woman who returns to a man who in the first place drove her away with his love itch. Without any feelings of hatred or revenge, she returns to help, probably because she has understood that, ‘We are loaned to this world only so that we might repay our debts. This world is not ours, nor has it ever been.’ There are other women characters too who have suffered or have been the cause of suffering, being unable to do justice to their children; women whose breasts had burnt with burning tires which rolled during angry riots, women who were unable to keep promises to their children because the society had no respect for their commitments, women who couldn’t look into the eyes of their sons because of the jobs they did to bring them up, women who had seen their mothers suffer and continued to wage ‘war against all men and against all love’, women who had goodness in their hearts and charity in their hands to help the Jonathans of this world, women who unquestioningly rushed to help those who had destroyed them.


Shroff has ventured to teach us life through Jonathan’s story, which he has interestingly packed with sufferings, longings, doubts, darkness and yet allows moments of realization to pop up ‘when you least expected it’ because after all it has been a long journey for a Jonathan who cares; and it has been long since we have been ‘Waiting for Jonathan Koshy’.