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The Indigenius' Den by Ankit Kumar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at www.theindigeniusden.blogspot.com.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Trapped

Jarring Orange
Amidst shrieks and wailings, Raghav opened his eyes to look up at weird plasticy tentacles. He couldn't understand what it was because he was all of 4 months old. This intervention was supposedly a device by his worried mother to pacify him. It was a dingy room with orange walls which peeled at multiple places. Accentuated by the dim bulb, the orange jarred young Anita’s head. Odds and ends lined open shelves engraved in the walls. “Why doesn’t he stop crying!” she spat.
It really was a mistake.

Melancholic Blue
Tut-tut-tut. Raghav knocked at his son's door.

A dull yet sturdy thud had interrupted his early morning musings. There was no answer. The blue walls of the swanky drawing room somewhat resonated with his mood. It had been awhile since his son had spoken to him in more than two syllables. While he had given up on any reprieve, he knew he was failing in his responsibilities as a father. He knew nothing about his 25 year old son's friends, work or habits. When had they steered so apart? The mad rush to earn money had managed to do what he had feared all along.
Raghav hadn’t yet opened the door.

Shades of Grey
Anny held Raghav tightly while their bodies throbbed in embrace. She hadn't been touched so ever in her life before. The pain was blinding but blissful; the euphoria only punctuated by the greyness of the ceiling she saw above her. They trailed to the edge of climax; almost animalistic in the throes of passion. "We should have used protection," said she, panting between heavy breaths. Raghav wasn't worried. She was not his first in this bed. He hated condoms.

Shroud
Loud music filled the unkempt room. Dirt on the floor reverberated in rhythm. Tiny specks of cocaine, as white as the walls around, slid from a packet on to the table. It had been a few years since his last time during college. According to his friend, this lot was the most potent he had ever tried. Raghav was eager and shivering from the lack of layers in the cold room. He made 4 streaks with a practiced hand and cleaned off every last grain on the glass top. It hit his head like electric. It felt different. Numbness empowered him and he fell to his death unceremoniously.

Tut-tut-tut. Raghav knocked at his son’s door...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hereafter, Forever…

The radiant sun, the grass green,
The flirtatious breeze under the infinite blue,
The chirpy birds, the lake’s sheen,
The evening sky with its rosy hue,
The somber twilight, the wet rain,
The cold night breeze, the white moon,
The countless stars, the aging pain,
The empty terrace, the expectant room…
They wait with me, hold my hand,
Caressing it, try to explain.
Getting up, I take a stand,
“Bring her back,” I complain.

Amidst the hustle and bustle,
A loud report blows supreme;
The Gray Beast draws into the castle,
Its followers — still in sleep and dream.
The sun’s slanting rays
Peer through the billowing smoke.
Steering me from my daze
Is another whistle’s loud croak!
I turn my gaze away from the sun’s rays—
There I see her — looking expectantly on.
Oh! It’s been so many days—
And towards her, I am magically drawn.

Enveloped in magnificence,
Is she in her lavender gown—
The world, as if in cognizance,
Looks on, mute, yet without a frown!
The fling of the arms, the meeting of the eyes,
The unsaid words on either lip—
The gentle showers from the skies
Complete a candid, perfect clip!
Hand in hand, we walk together
Into the velvety sunlight —
In our hearts will remain forever
This consuming delight…

This poem is a sequel to a much older piece: "Separation or Union?". 
Follow this link to read it: http://theindigeniusden.blogspot.in/2008/07/separation-or-union_15.html

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

अच्छा, मैं चलता हूँ...


We are but travelers, much like birds who build temporary nests and move on seeking better... While we move from one station to another, we meet new people and build new bonds. But, each time, we leave little marks of ourselves and little fragments that just cling on, never to let go. These fragments serve as reminders of the days that were.

The following poem tries to capture these thoughts…


खाली है कमरा, खाली ये अल्मारी,
खाली है मन मेरा, खाली ये तन्हाई|
भर गया है ये बक्सा, काफ़ी भारी हो गया है...
यादों का ये बोझ, क्या इससे कभी उभरा हूँ मैं?

कुछ छोटी-मोटी चीज़ें यूँ ही बिखरी पड़ी हैं--
इनको साथ ले जाना मुम्किन नहीं|
बहुत सारी यादें ज़हन में छिपी पड़ी हैं--
सबका ज़िक्र हो पाये: ये मुम्किन नहीं|

सपनों की किरकिरी आँखों को सताती है,
सपनों की ये डोर हमें दूर खीचें ले जाती है|
सपनों के इस सफ़र में...
हम मिले थे इस प्लेटफोर्म पर --
साथ पढ़े, लड़ें, जियें, मुस्कुराएँ --
मेरी अगली गाड़ी का announcement हो गया है,
तुम्हारी भी आती ही होगी...

यादों के इस बोझ से क्या कभी उभरुंगा मैं...?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Point-blank

Lt. Raghav was still trembling; reeling with those images in his mind, reliving the moments when he had stared imminent death in its face; the gory details sharpening with each passing second.

Still and red, lay Ajay beside him: the reason why Raghav was still breathing. Even Raghav’s leg needed immediate attention. But, he was too numb to feel the pain yet.

The ambush was quick and sudden, perpetrated by trained men; men who knew what they were doing, even to trained soldiers. Post Kargil, such events had become quite frequent, situations under which Gurkhas have always been known to thrive.

Distant yet strong, Colonel Tiwari’s words filled Raghav’s ears.

“You young boys are too young and foolish. The horrors of war have fettered many brave men; men rendered incapable of a normal life thereafter. Tell me. What, according to you, is the worst that can happen in the battlefield?”

“I can get killed,” Raghav had answered bravely.

“Haah! That’s where you fellows go wrong! Boy, you would be lucky if you die. Seeing the man next to you take a bullet are the images which will haunt you for the rest of your life…” the colonel had said, staring ahead of him, the lines on his forehead deepening.

Five of them had constituted the Wednesday patrol party. Their task was to check for infiltration at the foothills near the camp. Four men had attacked them. Two were gunned down, one escaped while the informer had been captured alive.

They had returned to camp with Ajay propped on Vishal’s shoulders; the informer dragged, tied strongly with a rope. Ajay had lived up to his reputation in this inconsequential battle, fighting bravely and securing his friends.

An eerily stunned silence engulfed the camp; a camp which was generally abuzz with foolhardy chatter by this time of night. Men walked briskly attending to their jobs. Major Singh had sent out a search party to catch the escaped militant. The informer was being questioned to gather intelligence about other militant groups operating in the region.

Subedar Rana walked into the makeshift tent. He had been with them during the unfortunate incident. His left arm was heavily bandaged. “Sir, Major Saab has asked for you. He is in his tent.”

Raghav looked up. Nodding his head, as he tried to get up, he winced with pain in his right leg. He looked down to find the bottom part of his trouser wet and dark.

Though taken aback, Subedar Rana sprang into action. “Sir, aap rukiye. I’ll bring the doc here.”

The shock subsided to be replaced only by pain; pain like Raghav had never felt before. He gritted his teeth to stop himself from howling out loud. He shut his eyes tight and clutched his leg above the wound.

A very short while later, Raghav heard heavy footsteps approaching him and opened his eyes. The doctor was at the door. Raghav’s eyes trailed from him to Ajay. Ajay’s face was absolutely clean and calm—untouched by the violence of the night. He seemed to be resting, even dreaming…

The doctor walked in briskly. He acknowledged Ajay with a sudden ‘Oh’ and turned his gaze to Raghav in a businesslike manner. Losing no time, he cut out the bottom part of the trouser with a pair of scissors and spoke as he examined the bloody wound, “Two holes – Entry and exit wounds. The bullet ripped through. That’s generally good. Still, you have lost quite a lot of blood. I’ll clean and dress it.”

The doctor helped Raghav remove his shoe. Even a slight movement of the foot sent waves of pain radiating through his body. And, each time, he gritted his teeth to overcome it.

After the doctor was done, Raghav’s right ankle and foot were completely covered in bandages to restrict movement of the joint. The wound had gone numb again; this time due to antibiotics. “That should do it for now. We’ll have to take care against infection though.” The doctor advised Raghav.

With this, the doctor took Raghav’s leave. At the door, he spoke softly to Subedar Rana, “Take the body to the medical wing.”

Raghav reached Major Singh’s tent with much difficulty; gathered himself up and saluted his senior at the door. Major Bhairav Singh was seated in the left corner of the slightly bigger tent; his legs on the table in front. Vishal occupied the chair opposite to him. In the farthest corner, on the floor, was the informer, quite curled up. He held both his legs tightly in front of him and buried his head in between his knees. His trouser was soaked in blood, probably a gunshot wound. Raghav could hear soft sobs. It seemed the informer had just finished crying out loud.

“Come in, Raghav, sit. Tough night for you boys…” Raghav didn’t quite understand whether it was a question or a redundant statement of fact.

“Yes sir. We were attacked suddenly. It was totally unprovoked and we were caught unawares. Though, I don’t understand why four men would give their positions away so near the camp.” Raghav answered in detail with no lament about Ajay’s death—the hardened soldier in him speaking.

“Yes, Vishal had similar questions and the bastard in that corner answered them.” Major Singh stated, emotionlessly, lighting a cigarette. Getting up and moving towards the corner, he continued speaking, “The three militants are part of a larger group which is camping somewhere not far from here. They had come here to map our location and gauge our numbers and ammunition. They were on their way here when they suddenly ran into you. Although, their task wasn’t complete, one dumb-witted fuck among them opened fire on your group. But, it’s fine. It has us forewarned and we have this slug to feast on.” He seemed to relish his last words.

Without warning, Major Singh bent down and extinguished his cigarette on the man’s bare forearm. The informer let out an ear piercing cry. Major Singh shouted loudly over the screams, his eyes menacing. “It was hatred that compelled that bastard to shoot first. Similar is the repulsion I feel towards these fuckers!”

The informer removed the ash off his skin and touched the fresh wound gingerly. Raghav realized that he was a middle aged man—a mere commoner from the nearby village. The left side of his face was cut in a gash and his lower lip was torn. It was bleeding slowly but constantly. For a moment, Raghav felt pity for his condition.

Apparently, Raghav’s moment of weakness was palpable.

Major Singh said to Raghav, “He sold Ajay’s life for a meager five thousand rupees. Such cheap death! Is that a price for our heads?!” Raghav felt threatened, not by the information, but by the Major’s demeanour.

Major Singh turned towards the informer again. He cowered in terror and in a reflex, covered his head with both hands, apparently expecting another blow from the Major.

“What else do you know? Which hole are those rats hiding in? Tell me!” Major Singh demanded.

“Sir, I don’t know anything more. Please let me go. I have told you everything. Please let me go. Please…” the informer pleaded, crying.

“Let you go?” Major Singh laughed loudly. “OK, I’ll let you go.” He pulled the pistol out of his holster and aimed it at the man.

“Sir!” Raghav blurted out. He couldn’t control himself!

Major Singh turned again. He didn’t say anything. He just stared at Raghav. Raghav looked down at his bandaged foot. “Look up, Lieutenant” Major Singh shouted. “How dare you question my ways?!”

Raghav didn’t utter a word. He merely stared straight slightly to the right of the major’s left ear.

Major Singh spoke with a reduction in pitch and decibel. “Vishal, hold the guy’s left hand and legs.” For a split-second, Raghav expected Vishal’s grasp on him but realized that he was moving towards the corner executing the command.

Major Singh placed his pistol on the table and walked slowly towards the informer. He got hold of the man’s free right arm and twisted it to reveal the cigarette-burn. The wound was still open. The informer had already begun screeching fearing the worst. Inhumanely, Major Singh pushed the index finger of his right hand into the cigarette burn slowly. Dark blood started oozing out from the periphery of the wound. The man yelped louder than ever and his limbs flailed about uncontrollably. Vishal did his best to hang on.

Raghav couldn’t take it any longer. The sight made him sick. He felt he would vomit and backed towards the exit slightly.

Raghav’s shadow from the bulb hanging in the middle of the tent gave his movement away. Major Singh called out to Raghav loudly, “Come back here this instant and look into the man’s eyes.”

Raghav stood still, almost dead in his tracks. The Major stood up and whirled around. “You want to say something, tiger?”

“No sir,” Raghav lied.

“Out with it. Reprimand my behavior. Call this torture inhuman.” Major Singh dared Raghav, speaking fast and loud, his words running into each other.

Raghav said nothing. Major Singh spoke, this time overcome with emotion, “I have given the better part of my life to the army. It is because of these behenchods that we lost so many of our men, our brothers during Kargil. Even enemies are better than these two-faced fuckers. Bloody traitors! Selling the country to Pakistanis… It is I who will have to explain why we lost a man today during a mere patrol.” He ground his teeth while saying the last line.

He looked threateningly at the man who seemed to be passing out from the pain. Major Singh moved towards the table, picked up the pistol and gave it to Raghav. Raghav held the gun unwillingly.

“Take aim, tiger.” Major Singh told Raghav. He seemed to be enjoying it. Vishal had moved back to his original position. Raghav looked at Major Singh unbelievably.

“Vishal killed one. Our Ajay got one. It’s time you popped your cherry.” Major Singh laughed and looked at Vishal as if he were expecting him to join in. Raghav still looked at the Major in sheer bewilderment. Raghav was trembling exactly as he was when they had been ambushed.

“Go on, tiger. It’s a sitting duck. It can’t get easier; your first step into blood and gore, into manhood at the army. Point blank range.

The unfortunate man in the corner had still not understood the fate he was about to get subjected to. He was merely looking at his wounds, whimpering in pain and pleading with the almighty.

“Sir, he is unarmed. He can’t defend himself. How can I shoot him in this condition?” Raghav found his tongue at last.

“Unarmed! Principles!” Major Singh laughed, his entire body shaking from amusement. “Vishal, give your gun to the beggar.” The Major mocked Raghav.

“Shoot the damn fuck or I’ll have you court-martialed.” The Major shouted loudly.

Raghav was startled to attention. He took aim of the man’s forehead. He wanted to make it as short and as painless as he could for the man. Raghav’s hands shook as he judged his action and contemplated his position. He suddenly remembered his father’s refusal to sign the forms allowing him to join the Indian Army.

The man saw the pistol aimed at him and realized the sealing of his fate. Almost automatically, breaking all restraint, he leapt for Raghav’s foot.

“Sir, please forgive me. Please forgive me.” He pleaded and cried. “I have two small children. I took the money because they were hungry; because I was hungry. Please forgive me. I’ll go away from here and never come back.” Raghav stepped back, a tear rolled down his right cheek. He looked to the right, away from the encroaching gaze of the Major.

The Major came to Raghav’s rescue. “Bloody motherfucker!” He kicked the man back into position.

“No country for old men.” Major Singh cracked another of his piercing jokes and laughed alone.

“Shoot.” He finally ordered; his voice heavy and determined.

The pleading man, somewhat resigned to fate, looked imploringly into Raghav’s eyes. Raghav looked away from those eyes and aimed at the wrinkled forehead; his arms outstretched into position, his fingers ready at the trigger. Please forgive me, he said under his breath and shot with the precision of a trained soldier.

The gun went off with a loud bang startling the dead of night. Raghav’s arms jerked with the recoil but contained it as they had done so many times in front of other cardboard targets. The man’s forehead registered a clean hole with a single streak of dark blood welcoming death to his troubled frame. The back of his head blasted like a ruptured watermelon and splattered and spewed blood all over the canvas behind him. His body slumped lifelessly against the tent. The glassy stare in his vacant eyes froze at Raghav, almost incriminating him.

“What a clean murder, tiger!” exclaimed Major Singh. “My first one was very messy, missed the head and hit the eye, busting open the head like a piñata!” The Major still joked.

Lt. Raghav said a silent prayer, kept the smoking pistol back on the table and stumbled out of the tent without looking up either at Vishal or the Major or down at those still and open eyes.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

You are an MBA!


So you belled the CAT and ran amuck,
Got your future with a B-school stuck.
Waltz in; you did, to try your dumb luck,
So swollen with pride, your shirt untucked!
Back to books, not really to the grind,
Because you are here only to find:
A way out and into the moolah-world—
The place where dumber asses twirl.

The equations shrunk to unit degrees.
Straight lines in graphs always increase;
It doesn’t matter what the Y-axis is:
Profit or Loss, Product buzz or fizz.
Matrices never more than two by two,
Ah! When did you ever have a clue?!
Dreaming bright stars whether night or day,
You surely have become an MBA.

You have no domain expertise.
Dude! You can’t even tell butter from cheese.
All you know are these 4 Ps:
Please, Please, Oh… Pretty Please…!
Reading lines off PPT slides:
Making presentations to sleepy eyes.
That ill-fitting suit is now your uniform,
Do you even know the meaning of “brainstorm”?

Always searching for a bigger fish,
Never have you innovated even a dish!
Solving case studies is your dying wish:
The internet your wand, flick and swish.
Honeymoon’s over, fortune seems bleak,
Can you stifle that final shriek?
Plans of rosy roses and the sun’s bright ray!?
You tow your future into major disarray.

For many years you ran after pretty lasses,
Turned down each time by glowing faces.
Feeling the pinch, you removed the ugly braces.
Vowing to find a way to win those fast races.
Hence an MBA and an eligible bachelor?
But, while you walk around town in that uniform,
From towers and posts, nubile girls holler:
“Lo! There goes the Fraud Scholar!”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

At the Close


A freezing cold night would it be
Or a warm, sunny day with light showers?
A rainy, windy dusk in autumn it rather be
Or a dry, torrid unpleasant hour?

The world won’t stop moving forward,
Nor will the ants stop at work.
Neither will the breeze stop flowing,
Nor will the butterfly’s flutter cause a jerk.

It will remain mundane as it always has been
No interesting times further, or prior.
Will there be a few clad in black
When the clock strikes its final hour?

Neither the existence nor the end of one
Will cause even a mild stir.
The tale of ignominy shall continue
From January to December.

Those few glorious moments neatly tucked in
Will evaporate from living memory.
“He was a jolly good fellow
Who spent his life in pointless drudgery”.

An earthy box or a few pieces of wood—
The final nail, the final prayer.
A pompous goodbye or a lively salute
Are nothing but very rare…

Not a choice of the day,
Nor a choice of the hour.
Neither a choice of place
Nor a choice of the manner.

No prerogative of any kind would you get
Except the station that sees you last.
Unless you rely on destiny,
Your job is amply vast.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Love – A zero-sum Game



Attracted to her, like a moth to a flame;
She was a queen; he genuinely was lame.
Never could she remember his name,
Still, he pressed on, to board that fast train.
Most of his efforts went royally to vain,
Then, it was a different kind of pain.
She didn’t harbor much desire, it was plain,
But you see; Love is a zero-sum game.

Being a Romeo was his only claim to fame,
Persistency paid off, she did proclaim.
The fire ignited in spite of the rain,
(He had an umbrella to protect her mane)
The turn of events left many hearts maimed.
Strong was his mirth, she – pretty and vain,
They were caught together in many a frame.
Yes darlin’, Love is a zero-sum game.

Always at service for the pretty dame,
He lost his sleep (he never had a brain)
Tantrums galore but she wasn’t to blame,
Life for her had always been the same –
Whether this fool, or the one in the next lane.
Now he felt a different kind of pain,
One that stemmed from the agony of disdain,
Yes sweets; Love is a zero-sum game.

With a crunch cracked the damned frame,
Apart! Broken! Started the blame-game.
The next in line presented his claim,
Off she went, boarding another plane.
Left was he, soaked in the dirty lane,
Now, many would remember his name—
Added to the list of many pea brains,
Oooh, Love indeed is a zero-sum game.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A to Z of Happyness


Add smiles to faces around you,
Bend rules for the good of all,
Clap aloud at performances,
Dance to tunes even during freefall.

Eclectic is what life can be,
Fun-filled and enchanting,
Guffaws and hearty cheers,
Happyness unrelenting.

Invest in your future no holds barred,
Jump up in glory once in a while.
Kindness will hold you steady,
Longing also can make you smile.

Manage your time for work and fun:
Nastier the boss, bigger the gun;
Open happiness with him still,
Pour out oodles, refill after refill.

Quench the thirst for success,
Race harder each time you fall.
Stand up for mercy and peace,
Together we can, can’t we all?

Utter those magical words frequently,
Venerate the old, help the needy.
Work hard, play harder, steadily.
Xerox delight copiously.

Yesterday is gone, today is a gift,
Zeroes matter, but only after a digit!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ode to a Motorcar Driver

The traffic snarls get nastier;
In an unswerving line I go.
But, perched in the middle of the road
Is an awkwardly big dumbo.

Lights red, engine purring,
It stands, assuming its right of birth,
Seeing a slight cranny to the right,
I duck in, underestimating the girth.

I back out and the stress eases,
Panting back to life, the monster moves.
With slight hesitation,
I resume my search for grooves.

‘Honk! Honk!’ goes the beast in front:
It’s another of my brethren…
The beast repays its debt with interest,
Hence, he and I get even.

The other animals part ways.
Now it’s only me and this oaf.
We go in blow for blow,
And he breaks like a roasted loaf.

Merry and contended, I race ahead,
But another fight is in the offing,
Dazzling my rearview mirror with luminescence;
Another fiend is in mood for some loafing.

Roadways drained, engines thundering,
A wild chase ensues—
Light and swift, I pass through gaps—
The trail goes cold, the thronging resumes.

The paths ahead converge into one.
Beasts pour in from the opposite direction,
High beams, high temper, high decibels—
All in mood for mad dereliction.

“We don’t want the whole path,
Just give us a tiny pass.
Use dipper at night, and…
Get your head out of your ass.”

Love,
A biker.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

And the Kohl was smudged…

This is how it was going to be.
Now, this is how it will be.
Never in her heart she knew
Ever since her life started anew.

Words spoken in heat of moments.
Promises, made at drop of hats.
Lives turn at sharp right angles,
Turn, on top of their heads.

Love is a tricky notion—
She believed it not.
With stories and fairytales
Were her bookshelves stocked.

Butterflies and daisies,
Warm sun and playful rain,
Idle afternoons in cafés;
No tear, hassle or pain.

The pink diary knew all her secrets—
Who made her heart skip a beat?
What caught her eye in esplanades?—
All things lovely, all visual treats.

Hats at different, stylish angles;
Coats dressed with sharp elegance.
Ah those eyes! Those kohl laden eyes
Struck you with bizarre significance…

What this perfect picture craved
Was company, with smiles and hugs,
Sweet nothings and kisses;
And to ward off unpleasant thugs.

One monsoon day, the gloom was cleared—
Laughter and mirth filled the moist air.
The much craved for company,
At last, occupied the adjacent chair.

Days whizzed past, happy and fast,
Those eyes had found love divine,
Theatres, parties, drives and rides,
Only for her did the sun shine?

Happiness and Life seemed kindred spirits,
Even monsoon days lost their gloom.
Those eyes shimmered with brilliance,
And every night had a full, full moon!

Aching to be together forever, hastily,
The handsome couple tied the knot.
Sunshine held onto its gleam for sometime
But soon came the twist in plot.

Unaware of a lurking evil twin,
She went on with life with much joy.
But the company in spirit of youth,
Proved not more than a mere boy.

With the twin, he went abroad,
Leaving her behind in gloom.
No words spoken, promises broken,
Saddened cafés, lonely moons.

Twittering birds still raced her heart,
But she kept still in her chair,
All things lovely, all visual treats
Were to her no longer fair…

Sunlight danced around her eyes,
But those lustrous lips didn’t budge.
Her rouged cheeks pink, coats intact,
But the kohl was smudged…

And the kohl was smudged…

Monday, April 4, 2011

Torn


For months, they had withstood Winter,
The icy chill split their spine.
Oh just a few more gloomy days—
There, there comes the sunshine.

Withered branches and strewn leaves—
Greenness to Yellowness—
From dawn to dusk, coldness ruled,
Emptiness and hollowness.

A few lucky ones were spared the plight,
Leaving the others in grief profound—
Green to brown they went and fell,
They fell to the frozen ground.

The martyrs withered away,
With the dust they mingled.
A few were carried on the winds,
With them the bells jingled.

Spring brought light showers,
Pleasant Sun and happiness abound.
The Greenness was restored,
Hearty cheers all around.

The leaves rejoiced and played,
Never had they witnessed this.
Except the grannies and the granddads,
Who sung tales of eternal bliss.

Suppleness and wit flowed supreme,
Many songs written, many re-sung,
But as is customary with Happiness,
It soon went away to worlds far flung.

Summer brought the Sun out in glory.
The silly leaves welcomed Him without scorn.
Thus started the reign of the much powerful one,
Horrid, thirsty, barren and forlorn…

Dry and rancid, arid and broken,
The grounds were beaten black and brown,
The leaves under the blistering sun,
Hoped for water in which to drown.

The once pleasantness of the welcomed sun
Had turned sour and scorching.
Hardened and brittle, in want of moistness,
The leaves went about searching.

Not the bark, black now it was,
The branches sent similar news.
From the south came word too:
There was no water near the roots.

The dried leaves hoped and prayed,
For bountiful showers, like Spring had played,
The mighty gods sent the clouds:
Menacing, dark and grayed.

From the heavens drizzled the lustrous rains,
Like elixir, they reined in life.
Enjoying the touch of a gentle nature,
No longer were the leaves in strife.

Bathed in cold water,
The thirst at last was quenched.
The rains then came down heavier than ever,
And the ground below got entrenched.

The gentle drops became heavier still,
Forcing the leaves to take cover.
The winds blew in, harder and faster,
The leaves now cowered in terror.

The mighty winds and rains surged further,
To diabolical proportions they grew, they grew.
The leaves wept out, holding tightly
As their mother now fell through.

The havoc subsided leaving behind an uneasy peace.
Attached to the mother, the leaves lay tranquil;
The eyes were closed, their bodies had wilted,
But some had teardrops glistening still…

Monday, March 21, 2011

Social Responsibility and the Youth of India


Mera Bharat Mahaan… Yes, our nation can be considered great if we want to appreciate the fact that we are growing economically at 7-8% in spite of the prevalent corruption, nepotism and the anarchy amidst the largest democracy. India is also growing (read: galloping) on another front: the number of citizens. Amongst them, the largest share of the pie is made up of the youth (15-24 years), the Generation Next of our country. Just to put the future scenario in perspective, let’s mention that India has more children (374.5 million) below the age of 15 than China, Japan, Germany and USA combined!

The youth in urban India today is fashionable, fairly rich, mostly self employed and lucky. Juxtapose this with the fact that youth in rural India is underprivileged, poverty stricken and unaware. Rich youngsters in cities enjoy a life fraught with malls, multiplexes, pubs and binge nights. With high disposable incomes, not a care in the world and a substantially high buying power, the Great Indian Bazaar is their oyster. Flashy neon lights and decked mannequins peeping out of large store windows beckon them on. This change in lifestyle and aspirations has created a big market for companies which cater to the “just-employed” youth of India. Even BSL GenNext Fund’s advertising campaign once read “Benefit from the buying power of the Indian Youth.”

This happy, contended and successful present day youth is us. We have taken a lot from society as if it were our prerogative. Our parents earned enough to see us through big schools and even bigger colleges. Our pocket which becomes heavy with cash each month is partly to their credit too. Well anyway, now, that we are self sufficient, educated and aware, it’s time for us to give back what’s due on us. But, we, in India, have a small problem. Many of us are either selfish or too self involved to look around us and extend a helping hand. We might give the odd rupee to a beggar or donate money for flood or earthquake victims, buy a product because it’s ‘green’ and environment friendly (our ticket to the group of in-the-know-and-aware elite class), mull over the political scenario crippling the nation and curse the politicians, even suggest elaborate ways to change the scenario. But, how many of us really get down from the cozy mezzanines and get our hands dirty? The number, though present, is only slight. It’s high time every aware individual who is capable, rolled up his sleeves and made his presence count.

Still, the situation in India is not totally hopeless. We do have enlightened individuals who go out of their ways to help the poor and needy, educate poor kids and parents, sit in dharnas to foster political and social change, voice their opinions loud and clear against oppression and injustice. When we see such people take to the streets, don’t we feel goosebump on our skin and necks? We must realize how challenging, self-fulfilling, and responsible it would be to be in that number. Various NGOs that work out of big cities, fuelled by HNIs who wish to give back to society after taking so much (well that’s another story), are doing their bit to eradicate poverty and uplift the masses. According to the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), India has around 1.2 million NGOs out of which 21.3% work for Community/Social Service, 20.4% for education and 6.6% for Health. That’s job well done but not good enough. According to a 2005 World Bank estimate, 42% of India (480 million people) falls below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. The problem is that this number is ever increasing. Are we really armed to eradicate poverty and bring about social change?

The youth today needs to rise up. The so-called ‘future of India’ needs to realize that it is its duty to work towards a better, healthier and more prosperous India. We shall overcome… Let this be the war-cry of today’s young India. Let’s make everyone aware, leave no stone unturned, let prosperity flow out of every nook and cranny of this great nation. Let’s drive out poverty and helplessness, shambles and hopelessness, sorrow and tears. The only tears here should be our tears of joy marveling at our own prowess and success. Not everyone can be a Mother Teresa. We can start small. Here’s how: always close an open tap, switch off lights and fans when you leave a room, do not pollute, say no to plastic, be economical when spending on yourself, put aside a small amount for children who beg and sleep on an empty stomach, teach a few kids on alternate Sundays and miss out on the latest blockbuster for a change, offer your seat when an old lady is standing right next to you in a bus, vote in the next election! Give back to society. We have breathed a lot of free oxygen. But, this can be our time. The moment is here. We can make a difference and yes, together, we can… The war is far from won but we’ve not yet lost. There’s a long way to go. Let this be the place where everyone grows together and no one gets left behind.

All said and done, unless all of us join hands, this game can’t be won. It’s one thing to be in the game, one thing to win it. We need to make sure we strive to achieve the latter. Come together for a better tomorrow. Live, laugh, enjoy. But also live for others. Laugh along with smiles on faces which were once poverty stricken. Enjoy believing yourself to be tomorrow’s better India. Let’s be the ambassadors of change, a change towards glory and equality.

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