Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind - Joseph Murphy

This book as the title suggests is about the power of subconscious to create and determine the course of our life. That our thoughts shape our life and we must think positive thoughts.

Since I had already read ‘The Secret’, this book was a revision of what I had learnt, in a way.
And it was inevitable for me to compare the two books.

A book such as ‘Power of Subconscious Mind’ (POSM) cannot be reviewed really. It has to be understood and applied in real life.

So most of what I have written below is comparison of POSM with ‘The Secret’, a comparison of the two approaches – one a pure market book and its shallow, lesser approach and the other, a sincere and a responsible approach.
Of course there are the noteworthy lines from the book as usual, my own experience in real life with some theories expounded in the book and certain points that I disagree with.

One has to be balanced while accepting or believing in these theories. Believing in the law of attraction or the power of subconscious mind to the exclusion of destiny, randomness of events, othersfactors that affect our lives – like the environment in which we live, the laws of the land, the society around us, the ways in which the body functions and others – believing, to the exclusion of all these, is kind of immature. It does not make much sense and our own life experiences do not agree fully with what is professed.

In the chapter that deals with health, the author says, disease is in the mind. There are several examples of how the placebo works.
A placebo is a substance having no pharmacological effect but given merely to satisfy a patient who supposes it to be a medicine. It pretends to be medicine, but it could be just a sugar pill or some powder.
The author says the placebo and o the actual medicine cures the disease because the patient believes that he is taking medicine and it will cure him.
When I was in Ladakh, I had gastric trouble and I took Zinetac believing I would be relieved. But I was not. The matter became serious. When I shared this with a doctor uncle of mine, he said most of the zinetac available in the market was spurious. Only after I switched to another medicine, I was cured.
So, you see, although I believed in the medicine I was taking, I did not cure me as it did not have to power to do so.
So, it’s not all in your mind.
Or let me put it this way. Mind is not the only reality. Other things in this world have their reality as well.

POSM is a lot more broader and deeper than secret.

One particular example used in Secret, among others of similar kind is a tell tale proof of the shallowness of the book. A person wanting to put to test the theory of ’The Secret’ visualizes a feather – and not just any feather – an indistinguishable one having a specific shape, texture, colour combination and all. And guess what, after a few days, he found that same feather ner an elevator. WoW. It works!

The example shows the shallowness of the approach and the fact that the team has underestimated the readers’ maturity.

Secret is designed/crafted for the short sighted, impatient, highly individualistic American audience.
The emphasis on ‘You can have anything you want without struggle, effort’.
The repeated mention of 1 million dollars, a big house, any car

The book says ‘there is no need to adjust, sacrifice and all’. ‘The world provides for all our wants and there is no need for anyone to make any sacrifice at all’.
It denounces the age old belief that people must make small sacrifices for the benefit of others, sometimes benefit of community. In doing so, it completely disregards the collectivistic ideal which is far higher and nobler than the individualistic ideal, which really is no ideal.

The Secret provides no guidance warning about wanton desires. It talks about the possibility of realization of any desire but does not say anything about the need to curb greed and lust that are natural to human desires.

POSM on the other hand provides guidance as to the necessity to moderate desires and does not sanction any and every desire. It recognizes the significance of the collectivistic ideal in man's life.

In the chapter on riches, the author while giving guidance to become rich and wealthy also says, ‘love of money to the exclusion of everything else will cause you to become lopsided and unbalanced.’

‘you cannot get something for nothing. There is no such thing as free lunch. You must give to receive.
Do not make god of money. It’s only a symbol. The real riches are in your mind. Lead a balanced life. Claim wealth, happiness, peace, true expression, love and personally radiate love and goodwill to all.’

On Success
People’s motive must be greater, nobler and more altruistic. They must serve others,…
The thing you want to do must not contribute only to your own success. Your desire must not be selfish. It must benefit humanity.

I don’t remember the details of ‘The Secret’ but it feels like the promise of a free lunch. There is no mention whatsoever of the individual’s responsibility to serve others, to work for the benefit of humanity.
It just says, you take care of yourself. The others will be taken care of. if each person takes care of himself, then where is the problem?
I don’t at all like the way the book appeals to the selfishness of the individualist.

The Secret talks about staying young forever, an obsession with Americans - says human body replaces all its old cells with new ones every 9 months or so. Therefore you can remain young forever. But the book does not dwell upon it sufficiently to answer the difficult questions like - does it mean I can look 25 when I am 60? Can I avoid death completely? There the theory would fail.

POSM talks about how to stay young in spirit forever. Which makes sense… which is so much more worthy of pondering than external beauty.

POSM not only talks about how to attract the ideal wife/husband but how to sustain the marriage through honesty, love, kindness, sincerity…
Also, it does not denounce divorce at all times. It does not promise miraculous solutions to all people for happy marriages. It admits, sometimes divorce is better.

There are repeated references in POSM to the higher goal of human beings – their well being, welfare – and implies that we must desire that which is aligned with this goal.
It draws reader’s attention towards the need to have priorities in life.

Given the fact that the book came much later than POSM, I would say it is a clever reproduction of POSM crafted for the market, relying on the weakness of today’s people - shortsightedness, impatience, and appealing to their greed and selfishness.

On the whole POSM is a more responsible endeavour.

Both the books denounce destiny.

In one way however, Secret beats POSM.
The secret impresses upon the minds of it's readers, a sense of urgency, immediacy and cautions the reader against negative thinking in every chapter - 'watch your thoughts. now. at this very moment you are attracting to yourself whatever you are thinking' – it is very persuasive.
For a week or so after reading The Secret, I was watchful of my thoughts like never before. When I saw negative thoughts, I at once, switched to positive thoughts.
POSM on the other hand, educates and informs you dispassionately in a tone that is calm, impersonal and detached.
It is not persuasive.
The Secret guarantees results without conditions. That is a definite motivation for the reader to apply the techniques.
POSM promises results too but then it asks you not to put money above everything, it asks you to work for others’ benefit, it asks to make effort, it says you can’t get something for nothing - which place responsibility on the individual and that lessens the guarantee.


…You must ask believing, if you are to receive.

…If you have faith you will get results.
Whether the object of your faith be real or false, you will nevertheless obtain the same effects. Thus, if I believed in Saint Peter’s statue as I should have believed in saint peter himself, I shall obtain the same effects that I should have obtained from saint peter. But that is superstition. Faith, however produces miracles. And whether it is true or false faith, it will always produce same wonders.

…The best way to impress the subconscious mind is to enter into a drowsy sleepy state or a state akin to sleep in which all effort is reduced to a minimum. Then the idea can be conveyed to the subconscious in a quiet, passive, receptive way, by reflection.

…The result of the affirmative process of prayer depends on conforming to the principles of life, regardless of appearances. Consider for a moment: there is a principle of mathematics but none of error. Principle of truth, none of dishonesty; principle of intelligence; none of ignorance; principle of harmony, none of discord. Principle of heath, none of disease; principle of abundance, none of poverty.

…Your thought can only affirm, for even if you deny something, you are actually affirming the presence of what you deny.

…Anytime you force your subconscious mind to do something for you, you will fail. The results will become more distant. Subconscious does not respond to coercion, but faith.

…Use imagination, not will power. Put away your intellectual problem solving skills. Maintain a simple childlike, miracle making faith.

…Why you get the opposite of what you pray for – when your desires and imagination are in conflict, imagination invariably gains the day.

…To him that hath the feeling of wealth, more wealth shall be added; to him that hath the feeling of lack, more lack shall be added. Your subconscious multiplies and magnifies whatever you deposit in it.

…If someone is making money dishonestly, he is using the law of mind negatively. In time, the law will take care of him.

..the power of assumed major premise is immense. Hence we must rethink our major premises.

…There are two levels of mind - conscious or rational, subconscious or irrational level.
…the subconscious is subject to the conscious mind.

…autosuggestion – suggestions we give to our subconscious.
…heterosuggestion – suggestions others give to our subconscious. Watch that is being suggested to your subconscious.


…for as a person thinketh in his subconscious mind, so is he.

…Act as though I am and I will be.

…your thoughts, feelings and visualised imagery are the organizing principles of your experience. The world within is the only creative power. Everything you find in your world of expression has been created by you in the inner world of your mind, whether consciously or unconsciously.

…subconscious mind is the source of ideals aspirations and altruistic urges. - Shakespeare, Beethoven perceived and communicated art through subconscious mind

…having clearly seen the end, you have willed the means to the realization of the end.

…Emerson - Man is what he thinks all day long.

…your vitality, body, financial condition, friends, and social status represent a perfect reflection of the idea you have of yourself.

…The instinct of self preservation is the first law of nature and self-preservation is the foremost function of the subconscious mind.

…The trouble with most people is they have no invisible means of support.

…Conscious mind is the starter. Subconscious mind is the motor.

…Subconscious mind has a memory of everything that has ever happened in the history of our species.

…People – professors, researchers have received solutions to problems in their dreams.

…the doctor dresses the wound and god heals it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kari - Amruta Patil

It’s a graphic novel. A new method of expression. And that’s the specialty of this book.

There is no story really. It’s abstract. It’s dark and depressing, but based on reality nevertheless.
It is interesting.
There are a few powerful lines but on the whole, I did not get it.

It’s about life in Bombay as seen from the eyes of Kari a tomboy arrived in Bombay and working for an ad agency. It’s not so much about her life but about the dark and depressing side of the city of Bombay.

Smog city, sewer, sewage, slums, women in lady's hostel swapping partners, having multiple partners at the same time, making out in the open before other people, women smoking, premarital pregnancies, abortion, homosexuality, cancer patient, death, suicide, survival, Bombay trains and more such…

For some reason it reminded me of the movie metro.

Fortunately, the graphics spare you a lot of reading time and effort. A picture is truly worth a 1000 words. Depressing, dark and abstract as the story is, if the pictures had all to be substituted by words, passages and descriptions, then it would not be worth the time and effort it would take the reader to finish a 3 to 4 hundred page novel that it would become.

Reality and imagination merge at places. Plus there are dreams throughout the book that are difficult to interpret. This makes the writing abstract and there is much left to imagination.

Whether a movie or book or painting, I believe that too much abstractness wears the person going through it and puts it beyond the reach of most people.
While it’s good to leave something to imagination, art as it is, a viewer should not have to make a lot of effort imagining and interpreting which hurts the purpose of art, that is recreation.

Abstractness is overrated in contemporary art. It’s a fad most of the time and not a necessity.

Reading this book is analogous to visiting an exhibition of photographs.
There is no definite story in the photos. But each picture says something. It presents a perspective. Sometimes it shows you things you never thought important enough to dwell upon and even brings out the meaning in them.

One more thing about the sketches. They are not all sketches. Some real photographs that all of us are familiar with have been used to bring in context. Like the Bollywood movie poster of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Picture of collages have been used. There is one very pretty arrangement of a drawing of girls finished with tiny silk frocks and gowns. A photograph of this has been used in one of the chapters.

The few powerful lines in the book suggest that it is a work of inspiration.

But I wish it were less incomplete, less abstract, with much too less left to imagination.
Glad it took me three days to finish it and not three weeks like other books since this is how it had to make me feel in the end.

All the best to the author. Equipped with a powerful technique such as sketching, the intellectual capacity to bring in elements such as dreams and symbolism, inspiration to create powerful lines, you will do much better if you work on a definite storyline, and choose a theme less dark and depressing and ‘complete’ your work instead of leaving a ‘to be continued’ on the last page.

Here are those lines that I underlined as I read…

“Of course I know that our tickers have been ticking since the day we were born but Angel was the first actively dying person I had met in my life. It’s as potent a connection as first love. I am madly drawn to her dying…”

“Alexa feeds the orange eyed cat in the tree every day; he likes to be where there is a bird's eye view…”

‘No matter where you are headed, or how nobly, you can sink without a trace…’

‘Why smoke at all? Why burn your money? Why turn pink lungs black? Why make your mouth taste like a wet garbage heap? There is only one answer - the desire to have a glowing flame between your fingertips is primeval like a caveman wanting to control fire…’

‘Make no mistake - there is no such thing as a straight woman…’

‘If I apologized for what was in my mind, I would be saying sorry all day long…’

‘It’s not that I have a bad relationship with the mirror. On the contrary, I think mirrors are splendid, shiny things that make great collectibles whether whole or in smashed bits. The problem is I just don’t know what they are trying to tell me...’

‘The ones who seem to have it in them to be flyers are the ones who want to snuggle into settling.
The ones that look as settled as old housedogs want to twist their way into flying. Necessarily you must be defensive about being a settling sort of girl...’

These lines are creative and original.
‘I play with fruit that the girls and I are too broke to buy - avocado, kiwi, mangosteen. There are some fruits you do not want to venture into alone. A peach, for one, creature of texture and smell, sings like a siren. A fruit that lingers on your fingertips with unfruitlike insistence, fuzzy like the down on a pretty jaw. Figs are dark creatures too, skins purple as loving bruises. A fig is 100% debauched. Lush as a smashed mouth…’

‘I had no politic. Means, I have no burning issue. Blurring genderlines? Bigotry? Cultural genocide? Dying planet? I can’t pick. My favourite form of movement is 'float'. I stand for nothing. I espouse nothing but Ruth. But my lover needed more roughage than coupledom could ever bring…’

‘... saying and doing things that will be forgotten tomorrow in collective amnesia. All that is inconceivable by day is easy by night…’

‘It’s amazing how long we can block out knowledge that is unpleasant...’

‘When I was younger, strange forces pulled me to the biology lab where rows of pickled lungs and hearts and waxen foetuses stood in jars. The tiny foetuses so tadpole, like it was easy to forget their connection with human beings. The larger ones, that almost made it, fingers and eyes closed on some frozen thought, lungs filled with yellow. Can palmists read the grooves on a formaldehyde baby's palm?...’

Speaking in her dreams to her roommate's aborted baby,
‘Nothing should live that isn’t a labour of great great love...’

‘Left to itself long enough, everything in the world withers, wastes, fades away to brown and grey. Tarpaulin and trash. Cinders and ash. Vegetables turn to potty. Red curtains turn colourlesss. Add to this, streams of men and women, like robots and slaves, in equally tired colours. We are scared of too much colour...’

‘Sitting on the water tank is always an exercise in fighting the desire to jump off the ledge. The longer I fight the feeling, the stronger I become, but the desire to jump will never leave. I guess everyone has a bird urge when they look down heights, a desire to jump, without wing or buoyant sail. Fear of heights is fear of a desire to jump…’

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Company of Women - Khushwant Singh

Having read ‘Train to Pakistan’ and ‘Delhi’, a true masterpiece by Khushwant Singh, I find it difficult to resist a book by this author when I see it in a bookstore. And I end up buying it with great expectations set by the aforementioned books.

Clearly, I made a mistake when I bought a short story collection ‘Paradise and others…’. It was just titillation and that too in bad taste.

This one was not as big a mistake as that, and certainly I don’t totally regret reading it.

At first glance, this book is about the reckless debauchery of a high society guy in Delhi, his different girlfriends and the details of his clandestine adventures.

What saves the book from being complete trash is the way it shows how waywardness makes a person hollow from within, the brief allusions to the tenderness within the otherwise soulless protagonist (yes, I am someone who believes that when life is guided chiefly by lust, eventually it corrodes the insides and kills the soul of a human), the discussions on religion and the inetersting though occasional facts about people and places brought into the narration.


It’s the story of Mohan Kumar, a man giving in to the temptations of youth without a care for anything in the world.

His debauchery begins with his college life in the US. He beds a score of women, easily available in plenty in the university - Jessica Brown, Yasmeen...and more. He returns to India and gets married to Sonu. When his wife gives birth to his son, there arrive two nurses to take care of the child, one of which, Mary Joseph, he takes to bed secretly.

Sonu turns out to be a querulous and cantankerous woman.
Perpetual nagging and quarreling are followed by separation. His father dies too, and he is left alone, a high society wealthy business man with all the material wealth in the world but returning to an empty house every day.

Sex being the most important preoccupation of his life, he tries to find it one way or another.
Finding his sweeper woman Dhanno very convenient, he gratifies himself with her.

After sometime, he devises a means more convenient.
He advertises in the newspaper for a female ‘companion’, who will live with him in his house, as long as mutually desirable to both, no strings attached, money and perks thrown in, of course.

Women respond to his advertisement and move to Delhi to live with him. One liaison follows another. Sarojini, Molly Gomes, Susanthika…

Once during a visit to Bombay, where he lives in a star hotel, he sends for a ‘bai’ one night. He uses no protection and after a month or so, his otherwise robust health begins to deteriorate. A visit to a doctor reveals that he has AIDS.
Not willing to live until his condition grows worse, until his shameful disease is discovered, he commits suicide.

My Reading experience

The first few chapters give the impression of yet another crappy material full of cheap titillation. A rich Punjabi guy from Delhi studying in the US, life being a casual affair and not a serious business at his age, convenience mattering more than culture or morality...his morally loose ways (‘morally loose’ in my language, ‘having liberal values', in their language)…
His leching at women and his advertising in the newspaper for a concubine after his wife left him...

Only when the narration in first person begins, it seems like the authentic story of someone who has a heart, mind and soul, his wayward ways notwithstanding.

The author presents a man indulging in pleasures without a care for anything or anyone, without a thought for morality but shows now and then, how, eventually, sex, money, prestige, comfort, convenience make him hollow from inside.

Though having become completely westernized, moving in high society circles, focused on show business, he still longs, once in a way, for the experience of seeing the Ganga Aarti at Harki Paudi at Haridwar. The sight of the Ganga lifts his spirits.

These mentions are very brief in a book filled with debauchery.
And to me, they reflect the fact that the protagonist keeps these moments very brief, perhaps, for fear that dwelling upon them too much may stir his conscience and change his life, perhaps for fear of upsetting the existing order, perhaps fearing a return to his home. When you have gone very far away from home, you fear coming back.

It made me think, that It is like that with most people on the wrong path. Once in a way they hear their inner voices but stifle them.
For if they hear that voice for long, they may be giving it strength and that inner turmoil may become a revolution and upset the existing order.
Most people believe they cannot make that return, that they are beyond a point of return.

During a conversation with one of his concubines, he makes a passing remark ‘my sins need a lot more cleansing’ – here too, there is momentary prevalence of conscience upon convenience and acknowledgment of wrong doing, a prick of conscience in spite of all the arguments to support free sex, the liberal way of living etc.

Our protagonist has deep attachment towards his father. When his father dies, he goes to Hardwar to immerse his ashes in the Ganges. He spends the night in the same room as he had during a previous visit with his father and he clings to the ashes while sleeping, crying like a baby.

When he realizes he is dying he starts reading the Bhagavad Gita. With each sleeping pill that he swallows, he chants the Gayathri Mantra once.


The author takes up the subject of religion and through casual exchanges between his various characters, presents interesting views (perhaps his own opinions) about religions.

His protagonist chooses comparative religion as a subject at Princeton in the US.
His girlfriends belong to different religions - Yasmeen a muslim from Azad Kashmir, Molly Gomes a Goan Christian, Susanthika a Buddhist from Srilanka.

His choice of characters seemed to me, like part of a premeditated plan to bring up the subject of religion.

In one of the classroom discussions, Yasmeen, a proud Muslim, from Azad Kashmir dreaming about liberating Kashmir from the clutches of Hindus, aggressively proclaims the superiority of Islam and points to the many flaws in the Hindu society. She mocks at Hindus washing away sins by dipping in the Ganges.
A Jew claims that Muslims borrowed everything from Judaism or Chritianity and had nothing new, and Yasmeen proclaims with more ferocity than before that the Prophet was the greatest. One whole chapter is dedicated to this.
It ends with Yasmeen (a married woman with 2 children) dragging Mohan Kumar to bed, taking him by surprise, and reluctantly admitting that Islam provides for washing away of sins by a pilgrimage or something.

Molly gomes (Maria Manuela Francesca Jose de Piedade Philomena Gomes) tells Mohan that Hindus outnumber the Portuguese Catholic in Goa and are much richer too but Christians have more style and enjoy life. But there are more cathedrals than temples, they attend masses more regularly than Hindus do Puja and they look down upon Hindus and don’t intermarry.

Mohan Kumar tells Susanthika that a lot of stress is laid on ‘Dukkha’ in Buddhism; Sorrow, to be overcome by overcoming desire; for food sex and good things in life. The strength of Hinduism lies in the fact that it is a happy religion. The rituals allow fun and frolic, drinking dancing gambling and flirting. “I go by that rather than fasting, penance...”

There are some interesting facts thrown in here and there which contain the reader’s interest. I have noted them below as is my habit.

The inventiveness of Americans- A six story building in Princeton designed by Japanese - when they found it to be too close to the road, they raised the structure from its foundation and placed it in its new site without disturbing even its furnishings...
They turned an empty site into a forest in a month by planting half grown trees...
Business opportunities at the Ganges offered by death - sifting of silver or gold fillings of the teeth of dead persons from their ashes by urchins standing waist deep in the river shining mirrors into the water to catch the glint of precious metal. They partnership with the paandas who empty the urns close to the banks to make retrieval possible...
Americans disdain jealousy as a medieval emotion…
Singing and dancing are in Goan blood…
Delhi is the capital city of gossipmongers…

These, combined with snatches of religious discussions here and there try hard to take the book to a higher level but without much success. At best, this book warns people lost in debauchery. That is, if such people don’t scoff at the ‘moral story’ that the book tries not to be.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yercaud - Day 1 - Surroundings & The Lake

Red and orange are difficult to capture. I found the right adjustment to get the exact colour. Reduced the picture brightness by two units.

Put the hat on and tried to look cute.

After lunch at Malar, we drove around.

We should have more of this tree in our cities. Sweet reminders of the colourful fall of October 2007 in Seattle.

A very old house. It’s going to be turned into hotel or something. Someone said it was getting a facelift.

A dried up thorny shrub with red flowers. Found this lining many roads on the hillside.

A machine. Perhaps it is a historic moment for this town. It may never look the same again.

Boating on the lake. It wasnt much of a lake. Our Karanji lake in Mysore is bigger and more beautiful than this.
The boatman was right at the centre of the boat. Trying to keep the balance, not allowing us to move from our place. To my annoyance.

Anna Park. Small. Rose gardens are so common. They could develop into something beautiful. I was thinking of the Japanese tea garden in San Francisco. If they could cultivate it into something similar, it would be truly worthy of one’s time.

Overall, not much. My father said Kodai and Ooty were much better. The next day was going to be much better.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Transient Permanence

Late 2007

El Dorado Hills. California. USA.
I was working for a client in the healthcare industry, specifically, drawing business process models towards migration from a legacy to a new system.

We had a long break between morning and afternoon sessions.

I logged into yahoo and saw that he was online. It was not the first time I was logged into yahoo, but it was the first time in that time zone. In which my day was not always his night.
As it had been when I was in India.
He was in the UK. A part of my day in the US overlapped with a part of his day in the UK.
So for the first time, I saw him online.

And I smiled.

How long had it been?
10 years?
More than 10 years since I had last seen him in junior college.
I had stood there sinking deeper and deeper into a bottomless well, tears welling up in my eyes and flowing inwards as he strode away from the exam hall without a backward glance, without saying farewell. I had walked home dragging my leaden feet and molten heart and dropped on my bed with a sigh.
The flood of tears would come later.

I thought I would love him till the end of my life. For a long time I had clung to his memories and lived in them.
Life had seemed impossible without him. I had gone back to the college campus where we had spent two years without exchanging a single word between us. Almost. I had stood there searching for his shadow, his ghost.
I prayed that we may be united eventually.

How naïve I had been!

Sometime, after 3 years of parting, I had let go of him.
New friends, interests, avenues and destinations were claiming my heart and mind and I found delight and joy in them.
With him I let go everything I had been interested in mostly because of their association with him.
That college, those friends, those memories…

Gradually I had learnt. That nothing lasts forever. Time does its work unfailingly.
Everything passes. Life goes on.
For all the intensity with which we believe someone is indispensable, after we have moved on in life, we chuckle and ask if they ever existed.

We like rhetoric.
True love is never forgotten! First love is never forgotten! And what not? All unreal.
Every emotion has an expiry date. Love too. If it does not find fulfillment by that date, it expires. It dies.

Now, 10 years later, that episode seemed like a distant memory from another lifetime. There was no trace of that love whatsoever. No mark of that wound. There had been other people after him, I had felt drawn towards; others, whom I had asked God for in my prayers, just like in his case.
And I had thought I would love him till my last breath and all. WoW!
And I had not even had a conversation with him! Those stolen glances had been the only thing between us.

Looking back, I felt like laughing at myself.
Those 2 or 3 blank calls I had given him!
The number of times I had read Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs to know more about Scorpios.
And the triumph I had felt when I read in Linda Goodman’s Love Signs that Cancer woman and Scorpio man made the best couple.
The hope I cherished that he would eventually grow taller than me by the time he finished studies!
The fondness with which I looked at that stinking Kengeri slum as the train passed through it before entering Bangalore city! He lived in Kengeri. Of course not in the slum; a decent area. But wasn’t the slum an extension of it?!
That movie Titanic! And that scene in which Jack Dawson (Leonardo Di Caprio) had drowned!
That night, I had drenched my pillow with my tears imagining that my boy was drowning and that I had finally let him go and survived. How funny!
And that song by Celine Dion “Near far, wherever you are, my heart does go on…” I thought even after I married someone else, I would still love him. Like Rose in Titanic. Hilarious!

And now, I did not even think of him once in a blue moon.
How completely I had forgotten him in a few years.

Only when I saw him online that day, I remembered that he even existed. And I smiled.

We started chatting. About what we were doing, where we were working and all.
We talked about common friends.
One of his friends I knew was married.
His chapatti was burning on the stove and he excused himself to flip it.
He said I was a hopeless fellow because I hadn’t found myself a guy in all those years.
And what about him?
He himself wanted a simple girl. He had no high expectations.
And then somehow the subject of our college came up. And with it, for the first time, the subject of my liking for him.
I didn’t mind talking about it now that I had completely gotten over it and could in fact, laugh and joke about it.

We talked ‘around it’ for a while.
And laughed. About how Ranjini, my friend used to be my informer and used to give me information about him and about how she would present a live telecast to me everyday – he is standing at the end of that corridor, he raised his hand to ask a question, he laughed when this happened… and once she had thumped the bench and said beamingly “he looked at you. I saw him. I caught him”

And he said he used to feel happy that a pretty girl fancied him.

And then we talked ‘about it’. The conversation had spiraled in.
For the first time, I made a confession about how seriously I had loved him.
He said “I understand”.
I could sense a sympathetic person at the other end of the cable who heard me seriously. For the first time. Until then it had all been bottled up in my chest.
All he said was “I understand” and I had a feeling I had buried my head in his lap and he was stroking it.
Strangely, the sensation of that love of 10 years ago returned to me.

And then he asked, “Your eyes moist and all now?”
And I was shocked to admit, yes they were.
My feet were leaden again and my heart, molten.
After all these years!
After I had gotten over him completely!
And how did he know?
It had been only for a few moments. But the tears had come for sure. They had travelled the distance of ten years in an instant.

And then I had an epiphany.
Love never dies.
After the expiry date, it starts sinking. The waves it had created, become ripples.
As more time passes, the ripples die too.
Love sinks to the bottom of your heart and lies there in its depths very quietly. Our survival demands such retreat of closed chapters.
We are fooled by the calm surface and believe it’s dead. It’s over.

True we move on. We become busy with other friends, other loved ones, with life.
But love never dies. It rests in the depths of your heart and if you get to the bottom, you will find it there. To your surprise and disbelief.
Resting quietly. And if you touch it, you will know it is alive. It will weep. For all that was. And all that could have been.
It couldn’t have died. Because it was a moment of truth in your life.
In fact all the people you once loved, lie buried there.
You tore a piece of your heart and gave it to them. How can they die when you are still alive?

I logged out of yahoo. My afternoon session was to begin.
I said bye to him.
I wiped my eyes.
And continued with my process models.
It did not hurt now.
I had left the depths and swum to the calm surface. To that present moment. Where it did not hurt.
Because I had gotten over him. Long ago.
I had moved on. I could now laugh and joke about it.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

When Shakuntala's Right Eye Throbbed

1996-1997. Bangalore.
I was in class twelve or 2nd PUC (Pre University College) as it is known in this state. It was the most important turning point in life or so everyone thought – parents, relatives, friends, neighbours, college lecturers and everybody.
It was a life and death situation. Do or die. If you did well and got into engineering or medicine your future was made. Otherwise, it was the end of your life.

My exams were looming bigger and bigger by the day. And my studies became more and more serious. I had started studying 4 months before the final exams.
I was a last minute worker. I still am.
I had drawn my time table such that I should finish my portions just in time. There was no buffer. No cushion.

When there were just a few days left, something happened. My left eye started throbbing. That’s the earliest memory I have of my eyes throbbing ever.
The throbbing was so continuous, so frequent that I sometimes had to pause while studying my notes and wait for the throbbing to stop.
I beamed with joy and hope.

It was a good omen.
Wait. Was it a good omen?
Yes it was. For women.
Left eye in women and right eye in men, when throbbed, meant a portent of good luck.
And right eye in women and left eye in men, when throbbed meant a portent of ill luck.

Apart from the fact that this was a matter of common knowledge among traditional families, I had just learnt about it in ‘Abhijnyana Shaakuntala’ by Kalidasa, which was part of my Sanskrit syllabus.

In this play, Shakuntala leaves her foster father Kanva and her forest hermitage, to join her husband Dushyanta in Hastinavati.
She is accompanied by 2 Taapasa’s, Shaaradvata and Shaarngarava and one Taapasi, Gautami. They ford Matsyateertha by a boat during which the signet ring given her by Dushyanta slips from her finger quietly into the water.
They reach Hastinavati and await the King’s arrival in his Homashaala (or Yajnashala).
And then, Shakuntala’s right eye starts throbbing and she begins to worry. It was a bad omen.

And surely, Dushyanta arrives with his purohita and shows no signs of recognizing Shakuntala, after all the appeals made to him by her and her companions! The curse of Durvasa had worked.

The great sage, known for his formidable temper, had arrived to the hermitage one day when she was lost in a daydream of her beloved Dushyanta whom she had wedded in the Gandharva Vivaha tradition and who had returned to his kingdom Hastinavati, having promised to soon fetch her.
Durvasa had cursed her thus “May the one in whose thoughts you are lost and because of whom you neglect me, may he forget you”.
After much pleading by Anusooya and Priyamvada, Shakuntala’s friends, he had given her some concession. He would forget her for sure, but if she produced before him any object that he had given her, his memory of her would be revived.

But alas! The signet ring that he had given her had slipped into the water.

Heartbroken & crestfallen, she returns from Hastinavati to her hermitage.

So when my left eye throbbed like it would take wings and fly away, I beamed. It was a portent of good luck. It could mean only one thing then. My exams were to go well. And my life was to be made. And if I was lucky (really lucky), that prince charming, whom I had been stealing glances at for 2 years would confess his love to me!

A few days before my exams, an evil aunt of mine had a heart attack.
And she survived.
My father, ever ready to sacrifice his all for his beloved si(ni)ster, brought her home. She did not have a son, you see.
And along with her came her battalion of daughters and the children of those daughters.

Lamenting, whimpering, whining, sobbing, moaning.
In such an atmosphere, I plodded through my notes, half concentrating, half studying, taking it all in my stride like a fool and not realizing at all, that this was a grave matter.

When my exams started, I opened the lessons I had finished first, just for a quick revision and realized that my memory had failed me. My heart sank. It was physics, the first of my exams, I think.

When the exams were finally over, I sank. I had not been in such low spirits in all my life.

I got 73% in my core subjects. I bade farewell to engineering.
For all the throbbing of my left eye, I joined a degree college and sat in the midst of mostly losers who had barely managed to pass their exams.

But looking back now, it was not the end of life.
But that’s another matter. Another story.

What made me write this article was that, for a few days now, my left eye has been throbbing again.
After all these years.
With the same vigour.
And I am thinking of Shakuntala again.
And hoping that at least this time, the legend about ‘the portent of the throbbing eye’ will reveal its truth in my life!