Halcyon

There is, in each one of us,
A new born duckling.
Fixated in time, fixated in love,
And no question of doubt or mistrust.
False wings, false hopes, but true reliance
And no such querulousness,
For we follow the one we see first-
As an erudite, someone you can depend on.
Independency- that’s the word, pretty promising…
Much quixotic, or a corollary
Of our vast imagination and fantasy.
Freedom, liberation, individuality
Of true independence, autonomous and sovereign
Keeps us afar from reality,
Bending our impractical prudence
Even further, towards queasiness,
Where we look back with concern and disgust,
And fret about our past.
Only we don’t know, and these expectations
Raise our standards, elevate our confidence-
To a faithful and an improbable state
Only to fall deep, deep down…
Into the known world of unknown,
The world you despised and deserted
Now becomes a learnt comfort of home.
Bringing us back to normalcy,
Bringing back our new born duckling.

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Animal Lover

I have no clear idea of when I started to develop this intense love for animals. But I do remember this one time- I was about 5-6 years old, and I saw mom bring a few eggs home-to be cooked, obviously. I knew that those tiny little chicks hatched from these eggs, and that the mother keeps them warm till they are ready to hatch. And showing some courage, I went and stole an egg from the refrigerator, and hid it under my blanket, so it stays warm. I kept it there, right next to me on the bed, and while waiting for it to hatch (I actually believed it would), drifted off to sleep. Well, the egg didn’t hatch, but it sure created one hell of a mess.
I learnt one thing that day- that those eggs don’t hatch and that you never keep an egg on the bed (that had a greater impact because of all the shouting I received). I really wanted the egg to hatch though.
For a long time I’ve been asking my parents for a pet. But all I get is- “you can’t handle yourself, how will you handle another animal?”, and “you will go away to college or to work, and I’ll have to take care of all the mess that it creates”. And of course “you all are like animals only, please I don’t want any more.” I really can’t help but laugh at that one. And obviously there is that ‘no pets allowed in the apartment’ card that my mother uses all the time. I gave up after trying every possible way out to get a pet. None of my tricks worked- I mean, seriously, I even made them watch Hachiko! Even after all the tears!
Most of us will agree that company of animals is far better than that of humans. Even if they don’t know to communicate like humans do, but they sure know their own language of comfort, safety, and security. You know that when the world is against you, this one will stay right beside you at all times. And no matter what, they will never leave your side. They truly are our companions in sickness and in health. And hey, I just realised that being called an animal is actually a compliment! So next time someone calls you a bitch, cow or pig, just smile and say thank you!
All this has got me to contemplate and I’ve been thinking of joining an NGO that works especially for animals (in Bangalore I haven’t found any, and suggestions are welcome) and maybe becoming an Animal Rights Activist by profession. Well, only time will tell what it actually turns out to be.

Nostalgia: Cartoons We Can Never Forget

Popeye the sailor man, Micky Mouse, The Pink Panther, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Dexter’s Laboratory, Noddy, Oswald, Tom and Jerry, Johnny Bravo, Scooby Doo, The Jetsons, Powerpuff Girls, The Backyardigans, Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Looney Toones, Jungle Book (remember Mogli?), Richie Rich, Bob the Builder, Ed, Edd and Eddy, Sylvester and Tweety, and the list goes on.

I bet most of the people reading this would’ve felt nostalgic reading the list of the cartoons that used to be played on TV before. I remember sitting with my brother every weekend and binge watching all the cartoons being played on Cartoon Network and Pogo. it was almost impossible to get us to stop, and hence all the homework for Monday would remain as it is. And whenever my parents would change the cable connection, we would always make sure that they chose the cable that Cartoon Network was included in- of course it was our topmost priority!

In India, Cartoon Network would play the Hindi version of the cartoons. I got used to watching it that way and now when I watch it online, I need it in Hindi! Though, I must say that watching these cartoons online and watching them on TV is a complete different experience. I agree that I can watch them at any time I want and anywhere I want, but the feeling of sitting in front of the old, fat TV with your friends and siblings, waiting for the programme to start and the advertisements to end is a feeling that just can’t be described in words. And if there happened to be no electricity at that time (which happened a lot), there would be a sure ruckus.

Slowly these cartoons started to be replaced by modern ones, with better animation and graphics- which we didn’t clearly care about. Although many such ‘modern’ cartoons were attractive and had a good story line, a few of them were just stupid adaptations of old ones. Take for example, Chhota Bheem which my brother watched and which really annoyed me (I was a dedicated Popeye fan, and still am),. It’s plot is pretty much the same as Popeye, except this guy eats Laddoos instead of spinach and was nowhere near the original.

A few cartoons like Johnny Bravo, Tom and Jerry, Courage the Cowardly Dog, etc are being played on Cartoon Network now, and its nice to see them finally appreciating the importance of the classic old cartoons. I really feel sad for my younger cousins who are missing out on these classics.

I’m pretty sure that everyone who grew up watching these cartoons knows how much they’ve contributed to our lives. And I know it’s too early to decide, but I”m definitely not letting my kids miss out on any of this.

THE FOOT AND THE SHOE

“But in time, stones and bits of glass,

streets, ladders,

and the paths in the rough earth

go on teaching the foot that it cannot fly,

cannot be a fruit bulging on the branch.

Then, the child’s foot

is defeated, falls

in the battle,

is a prisoner

condemned to live in a shoe.” –excerpt from Pablo Neruda’s To the Foot from Its Child as translated by Alastair Reid.

This beautiful poem by Neruda throws light on the sad and inevitable future of almost every child born in this world. Each one of us have dreams and unending imaginations of how we all see ourselves in the future, but somewhere in the back of our mind we somehow know that its mostly not going to be that way. Just like a child’s foot, which is unaware of its physical state and inability to fly or be a fruit on a branch, faces harsh realities of life and is finally ‘condemned to live in a shoe’.

What is this shoe? Is it our family, friends, our responsibilities? Or does it just mean the shoe, literally? I would like to think of this ‘shoe’ as the box we all live in. A box that limits our imagination, and far from being a place of comfort, is a boundary, a limitation to our capabilities. A box that does not let us reach our fullest potential, and condemns us to a life like everyone else’s. And yet, we cannot help but be pushed into this box and become a slave of life’s treacherous plan. We cannot fight back, and when we try to, we realise that we are pushed far deep into the box that it’s almost impossible to get out of it. Just like the foot, we are all forced to live in that shoe.

“Thinking outside the box is just thinking inside a bigger box”. I could not agree more. We are all embedded in this society in a way that its influence reaches our unconscious. Without our conscious knowledge, we fulfill the societal norms, everything that the society wants us to do, and in case we don’t, society finds its own way of getting things done. We are so scared of breaking the norms, of going against the wishes of the society that we repress our wishes, our dreams, and our unending imaginations and reduce them all to something immediately available and closely related to this material world.

In the end, we all end up being like those unused toys of a child that are forced into a box, expected to live in it, forever, with our dreams being reduced to dust outside the box, kept in the darkness of the attic, and the dreamless dust being cleaned and thrown away once a while, at the same time reminding us that we are mere puppets of life’s treacherous plan. And who knows, in the end, the box might just be opened and the toys taken out with new dust all over so another child can play with them, or, in Neruda’s words, the foot might just be born again as a butterfly or an apple.