No matter what you do,
The world moves on at its pace,
Break your hand or tear your heart,
Perish your body or sell the soul,
The world moves on the way it wants.
Split the atom or synthesize a gene,
Discover the cell or the basis of life,
Travel the speed of sound,
or its multiples,
The world moves on as it will,
with the same ratio of
Joy and sorrow,
The same degree, scope, quantity and
quality of,
human suffering.
For a stone, spear, arrow or mace,
sword, dagger, knife or gun,
grenade, bomb or missile,
spills the same red blood,
and takes the same innocent life,
As does the atom.
a thousand spears were raised
to kill a thousand lives.
a nuclear bomb is enough
But the thoughts behind it
and the intentions
are the same.
No matter what you do it’s all the same.
Cure a deadly disease
and a deadlier arrives in its place.
Kill the killer
and you’re branded one.
Topple the top
and you’ll be toppled in time.
Rule the country or the world.
Nothing changes,
it’s all the same,
no matter what you do.
Spend a lifetime in a penance.
God won’t come to Earth.
Create a religion of love today,
tomorrow it’ll be one of hate.
A saviour will come and save the world.
And soon it’ll be in need of saving again.

(This poem appeared in The Asian Age on March 17, 1996)

Never the right size…

Once a girl told me, “Your dress sense is awful. You wear clothes in any combination. And all your pants are either too loose or too tight.”

While I agree that I am quite careless in matching colours, the second part of her statement isn’t entirely my fault. The problem is that I’ve had too many ups and downs in my life. Literally, practically and weight wise. Especially my weight. I have been falling ill at regular intervals throughout my life. Each bout sees me shedding fat.

My first such experience was at the age of ten. I returned from living in England and I lost 7 kilos adjusting to the new climate. I looked like a stick. Chicken pox after matriculation led to a drop of 6 on the scales. Twelfth class illness: 8 kilos. But the real weight killer was tonsillitis during graduation. After it all died down, the final count was 16kgs! I think I feel lighter by a few kilos even if I have a stomach infection. So what am I supposed to do?

I have my own Newton’s law law vis a vis gravitation:

Whenever my weight goes up, it must come down

Now you can imagine what havoc this must be playing on my clothes. I can’t comfortably wear a pant I bought when I was down when I become up. That’s also the case the other way round.

At one point, I calculated a mean weight and decided that all my pants should be stitched according to that. If I was over this average, I would tell the tailor, “Stitch the pant extra tight as I’m going to lose at least five kilos.” Or, “Make that extra loose!” The result was that all the tailors of the neighbourhood thought I was mad and never listened to me.

That leaves me with clothes of extreme dimensions. Imagine you’re wearing a very tight pant and you go for dinner some place. You eat and eat and eat and become so full that your stomach gasps for breath. Your hand goes to your belt to make it loose. The only snag is that there is no belt. It’s your pant that’s tight. Ouch! So you can only painfully grin and bear it when the warm hostess keeps piling your food with more and more food.

When I start gaining my weight over a period of time, my shirts become tighter and tighter and even tear. I feel as I’m the Incredible Hulk in extreme slow motion. (He Minutes Hulk. Me Months Hulk) Everyone outgrows their clothes as they grow older. For me it’s a lifelong process.

People gave me all sorts of solutions. Wear elastic pants. Yuck! Wear suspenders. Hmm, I can’t see myself in them. My sister finally told me, “The answer lies in India. Become ethnic. Wear a kurta pyjama whenever you go out and lungi when you’re at home.”

I fear that I may be forced to take her advice.

© Sunil Rajguru

Chits and Pieces

It all began when he wanted to send her a message. He tore a piece of paper, wrote down the message, folded the paper and sent it to her through various hands. That was the first note. And soon a new era began.

Now before you think I am telling you another mushy love story, let me make things clear. I am talking about the latest craze that has hit our small class of post-graduate students—note-writing.

It’s a unique way of having a discussion with someone in the class without opening your mouth. You send a small chit to the person with a comment. The other person replies to you with another chit and this process goes on. Hundreds of such chits are transacted every day.

Perhaps everyone just took a fancy to it. Or perhaps everyone was exhausted with the busy schedule of back-breaking work that our faculty was piling on us and here was something to let off steam. I really don’t know and don’t care. It’s there and that’s enough.

But it really started when we had to go on a field trip to a tourist city. While everyone around us would be on holiday and casually admiring things, we journalism students would be attending lectures and viewing every tourist spot as a story for our training periodical. This concept was too much for anyone who needed a break from endless classes, assignments, subbing, reporting, page-making, project work…

We attended our first boring lecture and started looking at each other. Some bright guy took a chit and sent a message. And soon everyone started tearing pieces of paper furiously and exchanging “notes”… This went on to the next class and soon we were exchanging notes in the dining hall, in the matador and even on the road!

Now you might ask, what’s so big in a chit and why am I going gaga over it. Well, apart from being an extended discussion between two people, there are other options. I ended up asking such questions to people which I never dreamt of asking on their face. I exchanged life’s philosophy with some and got an insight into people I didn’t know well. One girl wrote to me in a chit, “I think this note-writing in some vague way brings two people closer.” I can’t help agreeing with her.

With others I exchanged nonsense. It’s also fun to pull someone’s leg through a piece of paper. A girl and I started exchanging notes in rhyme. This caught on and I was amazed at the poetic talent running in the class.

Now all this is done with such impunity that the person giving the lecture cannot fail to notice. Note-writing has reduced us to a bunch of rude inattentive scholars. Once when note-writing was in its primitive stages, a guest lecturer’s daughter sat with us. The whole atmosphere was too much for her, so she got up, fired the class for not paying attention. After that she burst into tears and went running to the faculty. Sigh! We were such a mean bunch. Another lecturer asked us if we were on some sort of “paper-chase” or something.

But now the course is coming to an end and note-writing is the thing I’m going to miss the most. “Don’t worry,” said my friend, “We’ll continue this glorious tradition to our work place.” Even if we manage to do that, I don’t think the same magic can be recreated again.

© Sunil Rajguru