Diaries of a burning lamp

I have heard so many people talk and cite so many problems as to why Malaysia is still struggling to fulfill its potential as a nation. There’s always been some big promise somewhere; but end of the day it becomes half-baked, with its leftovers doing as much damage as it does good for the country.

Of course, we can go on an endless rant what is actually missing in this nation. All sorts of political statements can be dished out. Something about the system. Something about the people. Something, something…but what is it? We try our level best to set things right; we believe telling the truth would make a difference, some of us believe being non-prejudicial would make a world of difference. I was looking for this missing puzzle, like I believe many of us were as well; in short, we were soul-searching. There is a Malaysian essence, and we know it. An essence of Malaysia as a whole. There is a spirit there, an embodiment, an identity. But we don’t seem to be able to quite put our fingers on it; or maybe we are just clueless as to how we will go about to bring that essence out and make everyone feel it.

But lest we always seem to forget an important fact- it all starts with a little reflection. The answers lies within the image you see in the mirror every day. At least I realized that. What is this country missing? Forget the politicians, the corruptions, the so-called racisms, the you-don’t-talk-shits, and everything else associated with it. Because I look in the mirror and I know, for a fact, I have something to offer. I do matter. As a citizen of this ‘visionary’ country, I have something to offer. I have a potential. Me as a person and my abilities. But I’m missing.

You look into the history of so-called great countries, and you find embedded in them, a persona of art, someone who dared lift stories from a daily baking oven to the pages of a book, or with the weave of a brush on a canvas, an ink feather on a citrus paper, a hand strumming a guitar, a picture captured through a wonderful lens. My Malaysia is not made up of people who do not know where and when to make a statement, or a lawyer who strongly believes a person can commit self-strangulation. It is made up of things such as that small hawker stall, a warm smile on a hot day, a breeze of wind in early morning, a descending mist on your car window as dawn approaches- the things that actually matter.

Art is no small matter. For those who have it will know the velocity of having something so mystic brewing inside you but not being able to express it out. Am I the first person in this country to have this eye, an eye for depth, an eye for invisible connections? Definitely not. There are many who have preceded me, for sure. But lights die out when nobody takes enough care to let the fire burning. You let the wind blow it off, and the light fades. There have been many who have faded before me. And this country keeps losing the every grain of chance it has to finally find some soul. People don’t listen to you when you look back one day and say this is the land of the great KLCC or Pavilion or billion-dollar investments. Heads will turn back when you say this is the land which produced human beings of exceptional qualities rather than buildings of exceptional qualities. Art is an universal language. All heads will turn upon you when you manage to ruffle a peacock’s feather and find the beauty of it. I am a dreamer, but I am ignored.

A sense of belonging gets deprived somewhere along the way as these chain of events continue. When a lifelong Malaysian comes back to his country one day and says he couldn’t care less anymore about the so-called progress the country is aping to capture; that he misses being in Vietnam rather than being in the mighty Kuala Lumpur, that is already a big slap on any Tom, Dick and Harry who thinks they know how to make this country progress.

Does Hanoi have more developments than this country? In our obsession to race heading to the goal posts of economy, we are losing our souls. People like me, like him, like many others, can form the Malaysian soul. But when the country has very little regard for these souls; we are better appreciated in other lands.

And I sit and think again: Why of all places, Malaysia? Why did YOU choose me to be born in this country?

And my question is someone else’s big failure. Or maybe we all should take collective responsibility for my questions.

For we have been busy thinking legends are made anywhere else but in Malaysia.

This country’s biggest sinking ship is not its submarines or billions of ringgits, but rather this soul. You’d be forgiven for thinking I have given up. No, I have not. The lamp is still burning, hope is still there. But I have to say this; this lamp will burn somewhere else one day if not here.

The last thing I’ll do is let my lamp be blown by the wind in this country. But till then, I’ll still fight.

The Rainforest Unicorns-Episode 3

Anand yawned as the lazy chair slowly seemed to put him to sleep. The temptation to fall asleep was just too great to resist. He knows business will be slow today. He is tired of Facebooking every morning, and just like his every other peculiar, strange promise-to-self innuendos, he has banned himself from browsing this morning. He glanced at his laptop and also computer, and remained unmoved- as if taunting them back in his own language that he doesn’t need them to pass his time. He stood up, and looked around, still yawning profusely. Something, somewhere, must need fixing. It’s impossible that there is nothing to worry about in his shop. Nothing to break a sweat about. Then he realized, this is a worry. The fact that he doesn’t have to break a sweat is a worry. No customers is a major worry.

That’s when the door swung open- Sabhi’s entrance finally awoke Anand. “No business,” he mumbled to her. “Anand, it’s only been two weeks, give it a break,” she said strongly. She was wearing a white colored churidhar, and Anand smiled upon seeing her attire. “What?” she asked, as she took her seat on the sofa as she always does. “I know what it is about, they forced me to follow them to temple, what am I to do?” she added, removing her heels, and settling for a pair of slippers that she plucked conveniently from under the sofa. She smiled at him. “Tea?” she asked, irresistibly.

“You are going to make me miss customers, this is bad for a new businessman,” he said. “You haven’t taken a break, you are entitled to eat and drink, because that is what all human beings do. Sadly, I doubt you are one,” she took a seat at the nearby restaurant, with a sigh. “They asked about you today,” she said. “Who?” Anand took his seat, blurred. “Who else? They mooted the possibility,” she added with another sigh. “Oh,” Anand took a long pause, a long winded one. “Is that a good thing?” he asked. Sabhi snapped.

“Can you afford to be a little more sensitive? Not to be an ignorant, blurred moron every second of time?” she stormed. Yuva paused again. It was as if words got stuck in his Adam’s apple and they are refusing to be uttered out. Sabhi starred at him in fake contempt. And slowly, her angry face carved out a smile. And he gave a wide grin upon seeing that smile. “You idiot,” she said slowly. “As I said, I’ll be there, anytime you want to break the news to them, I shall be there,” he finally talked. “But apart from that, I can’t say much, I can only support you in the decisions you make.” Sabhi nodded.

Karthi was panting. The books are ridiculously heavy. She has no idea why she had decided to adorn a saree to school today; it just doesn’t fit who she is. And as she finally made her way up the stairs to the corridor, she saw a couple of kids tugging at each other in ferocious fashion. And a crowd of boys cheering them up, with plenty more rushing to the scene to become spectators. “Hey!” she shouted at them. In truth, she hardly had any energy left. She gave thought to running towards the chaos, but chose to walk instead. This happens every day in this school. There is nothing special or new about this incident. She stealthily reached the boys, and by that time, even her voice drained out to let out another shout. The spectators started whispering among themselves as Karthi arrived at the scene. “Hey! Boys!” she finally found her voice again, ignoring the whispers, but the boys would not care less. “How come you are here teacher, we heard you were sacked,” a girl came up and asked. The fight stopped. Karthi’s heart stopped. She was cornered. All the more by Pei, with whom she always seemed to run a mutual dislike for. There was a hidden grin on Pei’s face. She loves it that her most-despised teacher is out of the picture. Karthi was in disbelief. Nevermind the sacking, but whoever allowed the news to be revealed in such a way that Pei got the chance to taunt her back must not be forgiven.

“Tell me why,” she stormed into the principal’s office. Lingering lazily, the principal shot up a compassionate look and a sigh. “I told you to change your ways, too many people did not like it,” she explained. “This is very sensitive, this is a government school,” she added. “Farah, I know why I was kicked out. I saw it coming. We had this conversation before. I knew the consequences the last time you told me about it,” Karthi started calmly. “But it should have remained between us, why on earth was it out so blatantly until even students are sniffing on it?” she raised her voice. Her frustration was apparent. Farah looked dumbfounded. She knew whose doing was the part that has infuriated Karthi. She thought about calling him in, but the damage was already done. His disgust towards Karthi was never hidden; so he would be the last person to be sorry about Karthi’s situation. Farah felt utterly helpless. Karthi stood still, starring angrily, demanding an answer. The sweat all over her body, beneath the edges of her thick saree doesn’t help. She realized, it’s the first time she has worn a saree to school. And she had to get sacked today. How ironic.

“You know who, I’m sorry Karthi, but there’s nothing I could do. You know who did that,” Farah whispered, careful not to get heard, she might offend her colleagues if she was heard being compassionate and pitiful to Karthi’s plight. Karthi turned to her right to the teachers’ office. There he was, with all his idealisms and disgust towards anything he describes as being ‘out of tandem with nature’. “I’m suing you lot,” Karthi said and stormed off. She collected her bag and the little amount of things she left on her desk, and walked off. For most of the teachers there who glanced up as Karthi exited, only one thought crossed their mind. Karthiga Rani is no more a teacher in this school. No judgement was made of her time here. She was efficient as a teacher, but her personality was enough to become a barrier why nobody bothered to get close with her. And for few in the office, she was a devil and her departure is positive. For Farah, she knew she lost a good teacher because people can’t stop judging. They never will…

To be continued…

A Reality Without a Shadow- Stars.

Yuva hates crowds. And he despises himself for he had gotten into this mess by his own will, not due to anyone forcing him to do so. “You wanted entertainment, and you got it,” Naresh said, noticing the beleaguered look on Yuva’s face as he starred at the gate with utter discomfort. Naresh’s smile was bordering on sarcasm. Yuva reached out for a bunch of papers he almost left behind in the car- they were his treasure. He did not entertain Naresh’s teases; he proceeded slowly ahead to fulfill his task.

Are, the door!” Naresh shouted as Yuva began to walk. “The door, who’s going to close it, your grandfather?” he continued, louder. “I don’t have one,” Yuva replied nonchalantly and disappeared into the crowd parked right outside that one big gate that nests under a humungous sign- AVM. Yuva could still hear Naresh uttering profanity as he had to get out of his driver’s seat to close the backdoor, and drove away. Yuva knew it’ll be a very long time before Naresh would volunteer to give him a ride again.

The crowd was Yuva’s biggest nightmare, something that he utterly hates- but being in his profession, he doesn’t have a gun anymore, to just show the people that they have to make way for him, but now he is someone who is after information just as much as many other in the crowd- to win his bread and butter. Why did he insist that he wants to cover an entertainment news for today? All these went in his head, as he, like a hero diving into a pool of mud, nose closed, in order to retain a diamond or a pearl dropped at the bed of the lake, instinctively ‘dived’ into the crowd, pushing and shoving his way through, but all the time making sure his grip on the stack of notes in his hands remain strong- not a single paper he could afford to drop.

And as if the gates of heaven open when you start knocking on it, the gate opened, right at the moment when Yuva was about to reach to front end of the crowd, he finally slowed down and took a breather as the swoosh of crowd left him behind. He panted. “Damn Aishwarya Rai,” he muttered himself, feeling lucky that he was not assigned to be part of this incessant madness and obsession with India’s most popular female face. He made his way around the studio, wondering as to how much a significance this studio is for local Indians. Having spent almost his entire livelihood as an American, in a somewhat experimental capacity- he does not understand the essence of this place, yet. Thinking back, he feels he does not understand the essence of neither India or America. He was India’s child who was given away to America so that he become a guinea pig for someone’s smart idea of solving police inefficiency issues in India; and while he was raised in America, he was never the American son- he was always the Indian son under temporary American shelter. A shelter that lasted 21 years.

He had now reached where he wanted to go. He cared less about Aishwarya Rai, and more about this debutant actress who happens to be performing for a song in this very same studio. Away from all the hype, if that actress had even felt a pint of jealousy that ‘Ash’ is stealing all the attention away from her; Yuva will be her compensation package for the day. Yuva knew, when he walked in to interview her, that he would never volunteer to cover an entertainment news again. Navigating through a crowd during a political or social matter that does have significance to the bread and butter of the people does make sense, but doing the same to just get a glimpse of a film star doesn’t.

The studio was almost empty, except for the few dancers, the directors and all the what-nots that are needed to make a song in this industry. The actress was about to perform, so Yuva had to wait. He took a seat after much hesitation, as the seat very much looked like a seat that belonged to a director, a producer or someone important for the film- maybe the actress herself. But he was tired for the hassle he went through at the front gate. An office boy (Yuva could identify this seeing a white cloth draped on his shoulder, with an empty tiffin plate on his hands- obviously having just served someone in the set) turned around and looked curiously at him. “Are..” he started, obviously pointing in Yuva’s direction. But Yuva had a wonderful memoir that he managed to sneak years ago; and occasionally uses it just for the knack of it. He produces his badge, puts up a stern face, and utters, “Police, go do your work.” The boy scrambles off without much ado. The respect policemen get sometimes, heaven. The boy stopped at the door, turned around and looked at Yuva. He was apparently waiting silently until Yuva would glance towards him so that he can say something. Once Yuva did, the boy pointed out his thumb, towards his mouth, nodding mildly. Yuva knew what he was asking about, and nodded. He had gotten a tea without much hassle.

It was about an hour or so that Yuva was sitting there and watching these individuals dance, and Yuva was prepared to do all the waiting that he has been doing. The started scribbling on his papers, after making sure not even one of them is missing. He glanced up occasionally, ogled at the skimpily dressed actress and dancers, and went back to his paperwork. Peculiarly, he found himself not ogling at the actress as he generally thought should be the case, but found his eyes rather locked on one back-up dancer; she was strewn among the crowd of dancers, somewhere in the middle, insignificant. She wasn’t the perfect dancer. She made an odd mistake here and there, obviously why she was placed somewhere beyond the most visible dancers of them all.

She was insignificant, yet she caught his eyes. A tanned skin, sweating profusely as she came walking down once the director called for a break, her hair all messed up; nevertheless she seems to be good friends with the choreographer and also the actress. Yuva can’t stop glancing at her. She had a strong South Indian accent, and Yuva could figure that she was a local Tamil. A benign smile sprouted on his face. He had taken to her.

Priyanka quickly draped her scarf over the shoulders and took hastening steps outside the studio. She is sweating, and feeling sticky within her body. A shower is what she desperately needs. Not a journalist who is suddenly after her autograph. “Why are you after me anyway?” she asked out aloud, panting as she stopped. “Are you like running away from me?” he asked, with a small smile on his face. He had an accent that resembles a foreigner. Priya hates foreigners who think they are too good for this country and that they are entitled to few things just because of who they are and where they come from. She threw him an unimpressed look.

“I just want to talk,” he added quickly. Yuva wasn’t about to give up. Her reaction is only proving to be even more intriguing for him. Here is an Indian woman with an ideology, with an opinion about something. “About? The development of dance culture in India or something? Or the lives of backup dancers? I see you writing something,” she asked, crossing her hands. She sounded ignorant enough for Yuva to know that even if he was going to use such a valid excuse to sit and talk to her, she wouldn’t come. She obviously finds such reasons to be of no interest to her. “You don’t read such books, I got it,” he said. She is smart. He had to catch up, and he likes this.

Ore meal, Pucca Madras food. Any stall would do. Hawkers? I’m on. I can walk and talk. No problem. Just a few minutes,” he added. She was quick again. “Date? Is that what this is all about?” she asked. Yuva nodded without any hesitation. “So convenient for you huh? Fresh off the plane I suppose, with the accent of yours; if you are someone whose idea of date ends at your house’s bed, then I’m not in,” she clasped at his advances one more time.

“I’d say that’s not my idea, and I’d say give me a chance,” he said. She sighed. “If I say okay, you’ll let me go peacefully?” she asked. “That’s the plan.”

“Tomorrow, 4 pm. You’ll have half an hour only, come here and I’ll tell you where. And add it that I don’t like coconuts like you generally, and don’t have to try to floor me, woo me, seduce me. Anything flattering uttered, and I’m walking right out, shoving it in your face.”

Yuva stood perplexed. This is much tougher than he originally thought. It took him two years to get attracted to a woman in India and he found quite a ferocious one for a first date. He realized he still can’t erase that smile from his face.

To be continued…

On a cold Friday afternoon

A water drop departs a green leaf and lands in to the streaming river.

Serene.

The sun glides its way across the sky in the morning, as morning dew draws a mist on your window.

The creation.

The rain leaves a trail of wet leaves on the pavement,

With a cup of coffee and a blanket, you watching it, still.

Indulgence.

The wind blows your curtains away, stripping your world and adjoining it with a world you can’t see.

Submission.

You emerging from shallow seabed, the sea strewn in front you,

Sparks of the sun coveting an endless horizon.

Curiousity.

A meteor races its tails in a momentary glimpse, the stars left minutely blinking,

Like a call from somewhere beyond everything.

Amazement.

Dusk, with it’s confusion of colors,

Like a sun spreading its arms wide to bide a goodbye,

Beyond comprehension.

The moon,

Saying a glittering faint hallo in the night,

Dark facades on the corners evoking a desire to know more.

Helpless.

A storm brewing, the dark clouds gather to create lines of connection to earth,

You need to hide,

But the clouds erode that fear.

Illusion.

Like someone turning on a light beyond the clouds,

Thunder.

A sign of warning.

The universe’s language.

You yearn to learn.

She smiles, eyes closed,

arms reaching to hug instinctively.

Love.

Beyond description.

Now in Chennai,

hands on a keyboard,

He knows what I’m writing about.

What I’m feeling about.

What I mean.

As his fingers strike a note, and his voice hums a note.

It’s all obscure, you do not know where its coming from,

but it flows through your veins,

It purifies you, nourishes you,

makes you a new man every moment.

Is it the hand of God? You do not know.

But your hands play.

It’s a gift.

Not a gift of Oscars, but a gift of feeling connected.

Connected with the real orchestrator of all these opulent designs.

Your hands on that keyboard is your gift,

My hands typing this out here is my gift.

All the miles apart,

We live in the same world,

I know what drives you, as it drives me too.

But you have travelled the path before me.

Thus I look upon the mountain peak.

Humility.

And I know I will get there, to join you.

Dreams.

The best thing of them all.

Ram Anand. 2010.

Dedicated for AR Rahman.

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 2

Yuva looked stunned; utterly speechless as he starred at Nisha, non-verbally demanding an explanation for why she had deemed it fit him to slap him across the face in front of tens of other people, who are just enjoying this unfolding drama. What crime of his was worthy of such a punishment?

An impulse surged in him almost instantly to retaliate, but looking at her brewing in frustration and anger, he knew that she was sending a clear message- her anger is justified. “Don’t you ever talk to me like that again,” Nisha said. “What is your problem with me? Am I not good enough for you now? After everything I tried and changed? What else are you expecting?” He looked up silently, determined not to answer- she already gave him a punishment and if she’s looking for an explanation as well, she wouldn’t be getting one from him.

“Are you sure you can handle this, Ms. Geetha?” Prakash quickly stepped in front of Geetha and asked. “I don’t charge that amount of money for no reason, I’m expensive because I am a good lawyer, I’ve handled dozens of identical cases, so you can go ahead and sue me if I fail,” she retorted. “Appreciate your confidence, and fairly that is why I have hired you, but I believe I’m now talking about handling that car steering of yours,” Prakash glanced at Geetha’s Mercedes. “You are not in the right state to drive, Geetha, I can tell that much,” he continued, glancing skirmish at Geetha as she did another puking face, before straightening up and pretending- for the umpteenth time- that the whiskeys that he had whisked down her throat in that bar have crashed against her wall of immunity, leaving her just as sober and aware as she always is. “I have done this before, countless of times, my Mercedes will be fine,” she stuttered. “I have to say it’s rather about whether you will be fine, you sure you don’t need anyone to drive you home?” Prakash was kneading a fine line between showing his concern and professionally respecting Geetha’s opinions. But he knew she wasn’t going to make it home in this state. “Will you drop me then?” he asked. “I’ll come with you, some other people will be in my car,” he added. Geetha turned around, smiled, sat, turned on the keys, and did another puking face. “Hop on,” she smiled and said after straightening up her face again. Prakash sighed.

It was more like a dream. Almost every one of them is. Prakash knows it from the numerous experiences he had with them in his life. He did not become a corporate mogul due to inheritance or sheer luck- he was in the streets as well, huffing and puffing like others in the city, wrote motorbikes in horrible weathers, experienced near-death experiences- he was used to all of it. But was she? He held her wrists, and knew for a certainty that she has just passed out. “Boss,” his driver patted his shoulder from outside of the car. “You ok?” he added, concerned. Prakash was still struggling to regain full consciousness, but he knew what happened. He looked down at his body. He has been cheated before. You don’t feel any pain and you think you are ok, until you start moving and the pain sinks into you. But not this time. “Take her out, she’s bleeding,” he told his driver. The shimmering light of Prakash’s own car, which has been following Geetha and him all along caught his eye- he was finally conscious, and seared in pain. Accidents aren’t pretty, all the more so when you ram a Mercedes at 100 mph on a divider. He understood what that look on his driver’s face meant- both he and she are lucky to have survived.

When Geetha opened her eyes, to finally recall everything that has happened- the meeting, the drinks, the overdose of it, the drunken feeling, the sheer disillusionment of thinking that she could drive while being drunk, agreeing to risk Prakash’s life as well by bringing him along, and ramming her car straight into a divider after not listening to Prakash’s frantic advises to turn the wheels or put on the brakes. “Damn,” she said, aching with a little pain on her forehead. “Yeah, damn, you survived,” it was her lovely brother sitting by the hospital bed, arms crossed, looking ignorantly as she tries to get her body straight up. “Too bad you did eh?” he added. She starred at him with coldness. “Your sister, someone who was apparently born six freaking years before you did, my brother, is in pain. Mind helping?” she asked sarcastically. Yuva finally moved to help place a pillow on Geetha’s back as she sat up straight. “Yeah, it’s all of your own doing, you were too much of a smart ass for your own good,” he replied. “You told Prakash that you did it countless of times before? How lucky should all of us feel that you are still alive then?” he stared intently at her, and at this, Geetha smiled. Despite that frustrated face of his, she knew what that look meant. “Aww,” she said. “I know you love me so much, come give your sister a big big hug.”

“You are unbelievable,” he said, moving forward to give her a warm, hesitant hug, careful not to touch upon any of her injuries and aggravate the pain. “Your cheeks seem red,” she said, noticing a red mark of Yuva’s cheeks. Being born to the fairer gene in the Indian family tree definitely did not help him there, to get found out so easily. He stoned himself, determined to try and ignore the questions. “Yuva?” Geetha was persistent. Yuva’s silence meant that there was something indeed that he was hiding, that there is a story behind the red mark on the cheek. “She slapped me,” he said, putting a sad face. “Who?…Nisha?” she asked, and at that moment she stuttered into a laughter as Yuva nodded. “You don’t have to be so crude,” he added. “Well, that’s classic. Why? What did you do? What did my lovey-dovey-adorable brother do to her eh?” at this, she pinched Yuva’s reddish cheeks. Yuva glanced at her, brewing in embarrassment. “I’ll talk to her, gosh, do I have to help you two make up with each other every time?” she sighed, with a smile on her face. “What did you do exactly?” she added abruptly, the smile fading from her face. She knew Yuva must have done something to warrant that wrath from Nisha, even though admittedly Nisha can be quite emotionally driven at times.

Nisha and Geetha both have a good relationship, a friendship of their own. It is for Geetha that Nisha fought with her editor, to ensure that the feature she wrote about Geetha remained a cover page story for the magazine she works for. Nisha has tried, with everything that she could, to be the person that Yuva wants her to be- the way she talks, the way she wears clothes- all these elements she has changed for his sake, and ultimately, she believed, for her own sake. But she could not tolerate being told how to speak to her own boyfriend by her own boyfriend. Whom is she supposed to impress? Is she supposed to impress him with the way she talks even after two years of being together? It wasn’t his mom or anybody else who were listening to that conversation, neither was she cranky nor offensive. Why that driven need to ask her to change her speaking pattern during even a private conversation, in which, she believed, is where everyone can just be themselves without trying too hard to please anyone else? What is this love that requires a person to change so much externally?

The phone rang. It was him. This was not the first time that this has happened. He would ask sorry, and he did. It was not the first time that Nisha had conveyed her feelings to Geetha and Geetha in turn made her brother understand how Nisha felt. Why is she unable to relay her feelings to him by herself? What is stopping her? She smiled as he started being a boyfiend again who makes everything look normal again. And slowly inside her, she buried the questions that have arised in her. But she knew, someday, somehow, they have to be awakened again, and that one time, they have to be answered. But for now, ignorance is bliss.

To be continued…

A Reality Without A Shadow- Indianised

“This,” he said, muttering under his breath. “Is the most useless project that has ever been implemented.” She shot him a scathing look. “That’s disrespectful to two awfully big countries,” she retorted, buckling her seat belt. Her looked at her, wanting to argue. “Shut your trap till we get there. I want to enjoy my last moments as an American,” she snapped at him.

What followed was a series of completely sarcastic glances from Yuva, and he absent-mindedly browsed through a magazine; but Maya seemed intent to keep her glance away from her friend of 20 years. She was locked to the view that perked outside her window, a window that shows nothing but a cluster of white clouds moving about under the shimmering sun.

It was the last time that Maya Rathod would ever feel serene in her life over the next few years.

“I can’t hear a thing,” Maya screamed at the top of her lungs, with the wet khaki jacket she was wearing making it utterly difficult for her to walk about. “I might as well strip naked, it’s fucking heavy,” she muttered to Yuva, partially shivering with the gun trembling in her hands. Both of them are hunched behind a TATA Sumo a good meter away from the officer in charge, who had asked them to remain in their current position. Flashes of light sprinkle in the rotten old building, indicating gunshots, but the monsoon is ensuring even that sound wouldn’t be hearable enough to their ears.

Within the blurred sight of Maya, she saw a pair of hands frantically waving at them, hands covered in another khaki jacket. “I think we are on,” she said to Yuva. He flexed his muscles. “This is even more ridiculous,” he uttered as both of them rushed under the downpour, past their police chief, past a barricades of fellow police comrades, and finally endeared themselves at the entrance of that chaotic building. Hunched temporarily at either side of the entrance, they overheard sarcastic shootouts directed at them by those guarding the entrance. “Here come the American pigs, not time to send proper police into the building yet I suppose, I didn’t know you guys are this disposable,” ranted a policemen clad with inspector uniforms. Yuva noticed his tag. S. Kumar.

And with that, they moved into the building. It was a brief second of silence, like the calm before the storm- there was almost nobody downstairs worth taking a shot at. Or at least Yuva thought so as he watched suspectly, lowering his gun, until a clicking sound made him realize he has blundered. The bullet had splashed on Maya’s thigh, as she immediately crippled down, tumbling to the floor like a chair which legs have just refused to support the body anymore.

“Nice suit,” Nassar said, glancing at Yuva as he walked past him and took his place two seats away. Yuva glanced at him, indifferent to the supposed compliment he just received. “It’s trouble, isn’t it?” Yuva asked, caressing his reddish knuckles, with parts of its skin peeling off. “You bet,” Nassar said, seemingly locked at seeing Yuva’s knuckles as well. Nassar was even more dumbstruck as Maya trudged down the silent floor alley, with a walking stick to her aid, but assuredly making more walking progress than a regular man would do. Her emotion read out in her face.

“You fucking moron!” she hollered at Yuva once she came a distance close enough to start speaking to him. He looked up, seemingly mute. “That’s brute,” she added, pointing slyly at the little mark of wet blood that appeared on his Versace suit.

“That’s why he is suspended,” Nassar added with a gloomy face. “I don’t want a suspension,” Yuva retorted. “I have no choice buddy. Look, there are people down there who would love it to see you go. You’ve been a threat from the moment you came. I mean, don’t expect us to throw tiffins at you when you come to steal our bread.”

“I’m resigning. Not stealing anyone’s bread.”

“That’s not what I…,”

“I’m leaving Nas, let me go.”

Maya shot Yuva a puzzled look, but Yuva had already made his decision. One of the only two adopted law enforcement, outsource trained law enforcement officers in India, had denounced the purpose of his arrival in the world’s second most populated nation.

Maya would, over the next three years, completely forget how to be an American. A report would land in her table stating the outsource program implemented between America and India was an immense success. And she would become the museum toy who would be used as an example, the only one there is, as to why this program was a success. She had a spiral staircase that would lead to an ala-attic house, designed just enough for two people. The place where she escapes from all of the attention- from both as the newly appointed Chief of Police and also as the guinea pig for a political experiment conducted by two countries who are too smart for their own good.

Drinking coffee at the balcony and glancing over, she wished that he, Yuva, would experience what she is experiencing. That he would be in her shoes. He should be. He’s the other guinea pig who went into hiding. “Now the whole world will declare you as my husband,” she said, turning around and looking at him, as he was busy writing something on his messy desk. He paused momentarily. “React, pig,” she raised her tone. They have been living together since the day they arrived in India, why would thoughts of a couple of conservative people matter to them now? For Maya it does, with the amount of uninvited attention she has been receiving of late. She had to do something about it. She looked at Yuva with a glint in her eyes. “I can use you,” she said, nodding to herself. “What?” he asked, still immersed in his writings.

….the continued implementation of this program would be hazardous for the law enforcement environment and would make it hostile. I wish this mistake is not repeated. It undermines the capacity or efficiency of local, Indian-bred police officers, and I have had to overcome a lot of hostile relationships for no warranted reason since I came here, all because the country had, in adopting me back here, signaled that my colleagues are incompetent. My success is not, and never should be, a gauge. I have immense passion for this profession and that is the sole reason I wish to be accounted for my success, not my American training process, or my education and upbringing there. I wish to point out that my friend Yuvaraj, the fellow participant in this program, who was with me from our times in Chicago up until now in Chennai, retracted for he couldn’t take this heat. A nominally calm person with a jovial exterior, the adverse reactions of this outsourced program was visible in the way he got into feuds with our colleagues, and in order to impress them went out of his way to release his frustrations in other ways. He eventually resigned while facing suspension for assaulting the lawyer of a criminal we caught in an ambush in Chennai three years ago. And it all started with me getting shot in my thighs while both of us entered the already gunshot-ridden building during that rainy day. The reason I’m  narrating all of these events again is because human emotions are very subjective, and whatever mission or ambitious program there were to be implemented, we should never forget the complexity of human emotions. Now a journalist by profession, Yuva had discovered his smiles and jokes again, something which went amiss in his days as an Indian policeman. Let’s not disillusion ourselves that this program works. There are no shortcuts to crime eradication. Bred in America doesn’t read as intimidating for criminals.

For a better India. For a better future.

Maya Rathod.

“You didn’t have to psyche me in there,” Yuva said. “Digging old dust, you pig,” he muttered. “Why did you publish it then? It’s your column, your space in the paper,” Maya told, fiddling with her gun while sitting on the sofa. “Well, a writer can’t say no to well written pieces, and you could have just mentioned about us. You know, botch the myth that we are married or anything like that.”

“Nobody would believe that we are just friends; that nothing ever happened. Not even in America would they believe us,” she retorted.

There was a momentary silence. There wasn’t the typical crack, the typical lame argument that Yuva would put forth.

“I have something to tell you. Well, just, you know, to share,” he said after a while, dropping down the magazine he was browsing through and sitting up straight, with a flickering grin installed on the features of his face.

She smiled. She knows him so well that she knew what is coming.

Thoda, American boy met an Indian girl.”

To be continued…

The Rainforest Unicorns- Leaf 1

“He looks like a freaking tadpole,” she squirmed, hands crossed, sighing. He slowly moved to open his mouth, but she beat him to it. “I’ll do it,” she said, “you better don’t find excuses when you lose.” And then, within the blink of an eye, she was gone. Yuva gaped his mouth, as he watched his sister dissapear in the cluster of the crowd, and before the crowd would clear and his vision towards table 36 would become clear once again, he quickly turned back to face his own table. “I’m so not seeing this,” he whispered to himself, half smiling, half embarassed.

Five minutes passed by, and it began to sink in to Yuva that his whole challenge might be a futile one afterall. He finally found himself some courage to turn around and face what is actually going on between his sister and what she ingraciously referred as a person looking like a ‘tadpole’.

There she was, with a wide apologetic grin on her face, repeatedly breaking into giggles as the ‘tadpole’ has stood up, and opened his arms wondering, obviously wondering what is wrong with the woman sitting across his table.

He instinctively stood up from his table and started walking to table 36, and at the sight of each other, the siblings broke into fits of laughter, leaving the baffled tadpole even more stunned, as fellow onlookers, all settled in comfortably into their classy chairs in that classy restaurant, started diverting their attention to the drama unfolding in front of them.

“That never happened, sir. We apologise,” Yuva said, just about controlling his laughter, before taking his sister by her arms and scouting her away from the place, as the bewildered audience returned to their peaceful meals while forming their own interpretation of what actually just happened in front of their eyes.

It was a walk that ate up to half a kilometer before both of them could finally settle their nerves and regain their composure, as they found a bench to sit on and calm down. “No, you did not win it,” she started before he could speak anything about the challenge that she has just botched up. “Look at who’s finding excuses now,” he replied with a mild tone.

Deep inside, beyond the fits of laughter, a faint worry sparks in Geetha. There is nothing here that suggests that her brother’s casual remark is wrong or misleading. She does seem to be completely devoid of any ability to strike any purposeful, personal conversation with a guy. And she knows her failure in this challenge this time has nothing to do with her perceived fact that he looked like a tadpole. In fact, from a closer view, she seemed to think that he looked much better. “Maybe you are right,” she said softly.

“Geetha? Geetha Nair?” a very familiar voice called up. Geetha rolled her eyes up in disbelief, half anticpating to be publicly criticized for a baboonic behavior in a luxury restaurant. It’s the tadpole. “Oh, Prakash,” he intoduced himself, offering a hand out. Geetha mustered a smile and returned the gesture, knowing now that her chances of being verbally bashed in public have gotten significantly slimmer.

And now her brain will stop referring him as a tadpole. He has a name. It’s Prakash, and he doesn’t, in close view, look even remotely like a tadpole. She couldn’t recall what made her assume he looks like one.

“I just couldn’t recognize you just now, I have wanted to meet you myself,” he continued with a pleasant smile. She turned around bewildered towards her brother, who looked equally mystified. “I have a case, would you be willing to listen? I could drop you a card,” he continued further. “Sure,” she answered spontaneously. As usual, she doesn’t show any signs of waning confidence or hesitation when it comes to a professional conversation. She shoots Yuva a bragging look. “And do explain what was that just now as well when you do give me a call,” he said, and made his way off from their sight. Geetha maintained her high nosed look at her brother.

“At least I have this,” she said, slowly standing up as Yuva started walking away from the bench, an act that is so common of him ever since he was a kid. If Yuva doesn’t like something or feels irritated, he’d pave away from the place, out of the sights of people who are getting more attention than him.

“Where to now?” she asked loudly as he showed no sign of slowing down or to wait for his sister to join him on the walk, meaning that he has every intention of not walking with her anymore. “Nisha,” he replied abruptly and continued on his way. Geetha sighed turned her back on him and started walking in the other direction, glancing at the Prakash’s name card still nestled in her palms, taking out her mobile and start typing out his number.

“Nisha,” Carolyn said sternly, still looking down at the cluster of papers she was scribbling on as Rajes turned the doorknob of the editor’s office. Rajes knew what was coming for her dear friend, Nisha. She knows that sound, that tone, she knows it too well.  She made her way out and closed the door behind her, and walked slowly to her desk. “Nisha honey, she’s into you now,” she said softly. Nisha sighed heavily and quickly made her way into the editor’s office.

“I won’t take this piece, no matter how much you insist, I don’t understand why you can’t mellow down,” Carolyn sprang from her chair once Nisha got in. Carolyn knew for a fact that there is no use of fiddling around in coldness with a woman like Nisha, and she knows that Nisha knows that Nisha is needed in this office and any act of intimidation will only backfire for Carolyn.

“I know what you did for your sister, so either you put this on the cover page or I walk out of that office door,” Nisha blurted out. Carolyn started to raise her voice, but Nisha interrupted her. “Sorry Carol, that’s how it’s going to be. I haven’t had a cover page piece for a very long time now and I’m actually not in the mood for negotiations.”

Carolyn knew this woman was just like her, and that even though whatever she blurts out is largely due to the frustration of other things surrounding her life, it actually elevates her level of work productivity. She is good at what she does. And she is exactly like how Carolyn was, and still is- volatile, unpredictable yet effective at the end of the day. She nodded. It was a sign that Nisha is free to go, that Nisha has won their argument, that there shall be no more disputes on this matter.

Nisha walked out and headed to her desk to collect her things, and almost immediately made her way out of the office, and anyone who noticed were smart enough not to ask too many questions. Nisha is in a bad mood and she is better left alone.

She marched down the stairs and headed straight to a nearby restaurant, where a serene looking Yuva was seated. He glanced at her and afforded a mild smile, she came storming clumsily, as if in a total hurry. “You look worn out,” he said slyly as she approached. Nisha hesitated a couple of times, refused to take her seat, she has set in her mind what she needs to do in order to feel better but now executing that action is something else. But she’s impulsive as it gets, and she knows she has every right to do it. Moving closer to him, with her hair all over the place, and her glasses slightly slanting, she raised her right hand, and landed a tight slap across his left cheek. And she knew at that moment that she has just inflicted her boyfriend an embarrassment he’d never forget for the rest of his life.

To be continued…

Preview of TAsB’s treasures

THE RAINFOREST UNICORNS

Set in the backdrop of a contemporary Kuala Lumpur, TRU explores the most diverse plateaus of human emotions- driven by six characters who are totally different in their own ways.

In a world where many of us stumble as we try to decide what will we use as our life’s guide and measure, the only common characteristic that pertains these six individuals would be their decision to just follow their heart completely.

As with anything, following your heart completely and jumping into vital decisions based on that faith does have its own ups and downs, but one thing is ever so apparent- the heart never fails to tell you a story.

From a buccaneering female lawyer to a young college student confused of her sexual identity- TRU is a bold, enigmatic, imaginative reveal of how life measured by heart breaks endless barriers and is constantly changing.

A REALITY WITHOUT A SHADOW

ARWAS is a criminally imaginative story, also one of my earliest and most ambitious brainchild. An epic science-fiction caper, the story not only explores the medium of science fiction itself, but also has elements of human attitudes strewn into it.

Sometimes the ambitious and seemingly ridiculous dreams you develop when you are still a raw teenager does seem to have the deepest substances, it only takes you time to realize what you were capable of.
Writing ARWAS again is an abode to my fiery, radical-minded youth, something that we have to keep flaming with a measure of maturity and calmness if we were to attain and fulfill our potentials in life.

ARWAS starts with the story of two close friends who are deported to India in a special program as junior police officers, and how a series of mysterious murders set a chain of events that went beyond everyone’s comprehension, leaving the baffled characters to pursue a larger truth that puts the entire humanity’s longevity at stake.

TRU will post its first episode on August 8

ARWAS will post its first episode on August 10.

Ram Anand. 2010.

The Journey Begins.

Hi everyone,

This is the first post and although I have plenty of content that I wish I can just dump into the vortex of this site right now and let you pore over them, I have something to say (write) my heart out.

But of course this is the starting of something special and I need to share how, where and who made this all happen. My extended thank you to Fhonsekha Subramaniam- who not only initiated this idea, but also took care of the hosting and domain (since I know nuts about how to actually construct an Internet website), and every logistic involved so that I could do what I do best from my type-at-your-will comfort of my keyboard.

Also there is Rathimaithily, (Ok, easier for you to see- Rathi Maithily) who came up with the title- Thou art So Beautiful. Part of the description that you read in the page about the website is also an idea from her-so you know how much easier my work was end of the day.

But hey, I guess that’s where live brings you first when you pursue your dreams honestly- you find that there are more than a few people who want you to succeed honestly, without any malicious intent, and would even go that extra mile to do what they can to inspire and help you up.

I have to say this because for the larger part of my journey up until now, loneliness is a feeling that I have acquainted with a great deal. There were times when it felt I was fighting a battle all by myself; that I had to swallow my miseries and joy all within myself.

But now when I look back, I know now I’m at the most important phase in my efforts to touch that glistening trophy laden somewhere beyond the silhouettes of beautiful mountains- but I also do know that at such an important time- I’m not alone anymore.

This website is the proof of that. I couldn’t have done this alone, nor even thought of it, or dared about committing into it. I know now I have genuine people with genuine interest in my success who are by my side.

I do not know how to sum up this site if you are still looking for an objective explanation. I mean, is life objective by any length? Do we have all the A,B,C,D answers for it? Do we even know what are the choices and potentials that we can actually have?

Life is subjective, so that is what this site is all about- it celebrates the opaque nature of life, but draws a firm picture of the infinite qualities that define life- love and dreams.

Let me tell you one personal thing that always has inspired me. I love dusks- the time of the day when the sun slowly sinks somewhere beyond the sea- and on the process releases a splatter of colors across the sky. There’s yellow, orange, colors beyond definition. If you walk to a common man and ask him what significance they see from dusk, they will tell you it’s going to be night soon. True.

But what about now, this moment, is a beautiful moment? True as well.

What about sitting there and just enjoying the scenery because you really must count your lucky pennies when you manage to come across dusk at its very peak? True.

What about, we’ve had our day, let Mr.Sun go and makes sunflowers rise at the other part of the world, while we enjoy the liberty of the moon? True.

And let me tell you something original- Life, is like dusk. Many of us miss it. How many of you actually even noted dusk? How many of you are even aware dusk is called dusk whereas you do know dawn is called dawn?

Life, like dusk, is about how you view it. How you interpret it. It’s open ended. What you think of it is what you will give it, and that’s how much it’ll give back to you in return.

I choose to see the final truth, the infinite one about it lighting up other lives, and my turn will come again. But the moon is never a bad company. Because it still reflects the sun’s ray upon us. And it is no less beautiful.

Life is NOT about looking at the brighter side of things. That’s a fact.

It is rather about discovering the Beauty beneath everything life offers.  Because when you find that beauty, you are not just convincing or telling yourself to choose a reality anymore. Beauty, as you know it, doesn’t have a dark side.

So, discover the beauties, shall we, my fellow travelers?