Friday, April 14, 2017

Long Weekend Musings

Maundy Thursday night. I should be in church now, and I had actually showered and washed my hair this evening after I got home from another hectic day at work. Eventually though I was too tired to go.

It's been another brutal week at work. Last week was the same. Being HOD may sound like a grand designation to throw around but in reality it's nothing more than being glorified clerks. The amount of clerical work we do is staggering. Mounds and mounds of paperwork. And crunching numbers. There's still some of it waiting on my table right now. I have to have it all ready on Monday but it's a long weekend ahead so I'm treating myself to putting it on hold tonight.

Good Friday and Easter week. Over the last three/four days or so, I've been hearing people continuously read Biblical passages over a PA system somewhere down the valley below. Young voices so probably a KTP project. I've been engrossed in my work (yes, been bringing it home, as well as slogging over it at work by day) so I haven't really been listening with any real attention. But it did pass through my mind how reading out loud can be both so banal and a treat. Most of us tend to just go through the words in a flat monotone. A to B to C. Boring, b-o-r-i-n-g. It sounds so much better when someone puts a little effort into it. Variations in speed, pitch and volume. A little drama, a little theatrics, and the page comes to life.

Excusa moi, I think I'll go practise a bit. Nothing like practising what you preach immediately.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

We Are Nostalgia

We are nostalgia
old friends who go back a long, long way,
raw-boned and scrawny,
barely out of our teens,
a motley bunch
in pursuit of a master's degree
in that cold, pine-needled land across the state
because ours didn't have
a postgraduate setup then.

Coping with study stress, cultural divides
and bouts of homesickness,
we sealed strong bonds at Mayurbhanj, Long View, and Bijni,
over guitar sing-alongs, dinners, socials, and picnics
out in the wilds where the boys would disappear
into the bushes (for Dutch courage)
before asking the girls for a dance,
and complain when the girls wouldn't oblige
but declare it time to get back to the hostel!

Vacation time, homeward bound,
early morning risings to catch the hired bus,
long hours on winding mountain roads,
stopping for meals at little shacks,
rewinding cassette reels with a ball pen,
nodding off on one another's shoulders,
promises to stay in touch.

Thirty odd years down the line,
in varying positions of power at work
we never dreamt to attain,
old friends meet and greet again
at funerals and at weddings.
So much history forged together,
yes, my friend, we are nostalgia.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Slip Away

When it comes
at a time when life
no longer holds promise or magic,
when ailments are part of daily life,
and you no longer dream dreams
for so many have been realised,
you feel you shouldn't be too greedy
but be satisfied with what you have,
and your discontent with what you are
and what you have accomplished
is quietly washed away with drink.

But the drink eats away at you,
at your insides, and time after time
you cheat death
in painful, close escapes,
and you go on,
knowing you're not too old yet to sit back on life
while all too aware you're no longer
young enough to start afresh
and tackle those dreams you never fulfilled.

That's when it comes,
the swift, sudden call,
and you go, quietly, alone,
you let go for it seems so easy
to slip away from the weariness of it all
and you don't really care anymore
what waits on the other side.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Zawlaidi: the Story and the Book

Spent the weekend reading a new novel Zawlaidi by Lalengzauva, a fellow rabbi at a local college.  I don't normally read books in Mizo, not because of any cultural snobbery but simply because I grew up reading in English (the reason why being another story altogether), and while I can skim a page in English and several key words immediately pop out, not so in Mizo. My brain process works ever so slowly when confronted with a page in Mizo, so I tend to mostly avoid it altogether.

This particular book was pretty much foisted on me by our Lit. Club kids at work. They said they would get to earn a small commission for every sale they made so I was happily suckered into buying a copy. Flipping through the pages, I was delighted to discover it to be about an old Mizo story that had fascinated me since I’d first heard about it a year or so ago. One that I thought would make great copy as a poem or short story. A story of illicit love, incest to be specific, of a young girl who falls hopelessly in love with her brother under the influence of the fabled zawlaidi (magic potion), and flees home the evening her brother marries another woman to presumably weep their nuptial night away on a sheer rock ledge since immortalised in cultural legend as “Zawlmangi Khum” (Zawlmangi’s Bed).

Quirkily enough, this book, while basing its plot on the legend and crafting a fictional narrative of its principal characters, actually debunks the traditionally romanticised claims of zawlaidi. And it's a minor, albeit intriguing, character who blows the zawlaidi myth out of the water: the precious potion he gives the leading man is really the crushed, dried powder of a common plant. Literally all that ensues is stage-managed by the wily sister who has all along nurtured an obsessive crush on her rather clueless brother.

Or does she? Is it rather perhaps the mysterious stranger who perceptively guesses the sister's true feelings for the brother, and in true Machiavellian spirit, manipulates the consequential chain of  love, hate, intrigue and inevitable destruction of one of the major players? Is there a deeper, hidden truth of a man born with razor-sharp wit and intelligence yet bearing the appearance of a brutish oaf deciding to play God with human dice? Idk.

While I enjoy the creative spin on the story immensely, I'd have liked the writer to provide a slightly more substantive reason for the sister's obsession with her sibling. Sisters and brothers don't normally just bend that way, do they? Or at least those that might, grow out of it as they mature, so some kind of psychological cause and effect would have given greater depth to this otherwise highly engaging book.

In all, a good read.

(Yay, I just reviewed a book!)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mood Piece

July days, brooding and heavy. A picture I shot a year ago, I think. With an eloquent quote I found online.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Passing the Baton

Years ago, I remember watching a movie called The Mission where in a climactic ending, a priest leading a procession through a jungle while carrying a Holy Sacrament is gunned down. As he falls, someone else takes up the holy object till he too is shot, and the sacred object passes on from hand to hand.

I've often thought how much life is like that: like a relay race where a baton is passed on from one runner to another, human beings live for a few years, then die to be replaced by another generation which carries on the legacy.

Today my mother's closest friend, the friend who had held her hand as she died, also passed away. Her husband too, who had been so kind to my widowed mother, is long gone. Many of my parents' friends and their generation are gone, or are getting increasingly fragile with time. The generation that had always walked a step ahead, had always dealt with the woes and worries of the world, is dying away. Mine must take up what they leave behind, putting aside fears and self-doubts, and however unwilling and ill-prepared, try as best as we can to carry on. From generation to generation.

It's the way of the world. Agonizing. Heartwrenching. But go on we must.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May Day

A quiet Sunday,
May is running out of days
The gulmohar flaunts scarlet remnants of its flowers,
the ones left untouched by rain,
a little bird sings before the mist rolls in
and the afternoon shower comes.

A hot cup of evening tea,
you call a friend on the phone
but she doesn't answer
Cup in hand, you sit by the window
and watch the sun's last rays
light up trees in the distance
entangled in white wisps of fog.