Tag Archives: monday-inspiration

Woes of Sympathy

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I go about the business of my life, shunned by those who hold their head high. Yes, the Proud. They don’t need me. Despite their dwindling numbers, they are still a reproach to Society. I’ve come a long way trying to help them find solace.

Solace, indeed.

Let me tell you how I tried. I touched Poverty, trying to obliterate her, she, who shivered in my presence while she cast her baleful eye on me. I held her close, too close for comfort, for long years, when the sun hid behind layers of frozen clouds. It was then that I became synonymous with the Poverty of the Spirit, who stalks among the living, touching those who cannot see beyond the confines of their cloistered lives.

I have been striving to be visible.

My presence struggles to be felt.

Have you ever been the victim of your circumstances? At least, perceived as one? That will be the shield that you need, for behind that, you can see me for what I am. I preen. I primp. And my twisted heart gladdens at the sight of your abject misery. I get a chance to show how noble I am, at your expense. I make people feel oh, so glad at their exalted circumstances. I make them feel gratified, important and eventually immensely magnanimous, at being able to help. I am condescending in all my concern, feigned or otherwise.

The truly Proud see me for what I am and walk away. They never look back preferring to shiver in their little hovels, living on air and water till their very eyes shine with an ethereal gleam only Death can recognize.

Their hunger becomes a light that consumes their being.

Have you ever been slapped hard in the face? Have you felt the shock reverberating along your jaw, angry tears, obliterating your vision. This is their expression when I approach them. I ignore that. I try to comfort with honeyed words that sound hollow, even to my ears, while I say all the right things.

They look at me and away, dismissing me in one look that deems me insignificant.

I try doggedly. I am spurned like the cur that I am.

I walk away in pretended disdain, angry, for I did extend a helping hand. I did try to uplift the downtrodden. I did try to be good. I think to myself, I’ve been lucky, truly blessed, oh please won’t you allow me to help you? Why don’t you accept my help?

Their eyes declare- Help? Never could stand the stuff. Distasteful. We cringe at your kind looks cast our way. Never could tolerate kindness. Especially when all we have left is our pride.

All I did was try to help.

Don’t, for all that we have left, is our pride.

Sympathy

Unfinished Business?

There are many ways of attaining salvation.

Various paths lead to redemption.

The catch is what kind you are looking for.

You are a successful physician waking up in the morning, in the middle of the night, whenever duty calls. She walks into your clinic with a huge belly and tells you, ‘No, I am not pregnant.’ Never mind that she takes the seat proffered courteously in a crowded bus, smiling at the man who feels good about having done his bit to society, a good turn and all that jazz. She rests her arm on her belly, her mind still.

She wouldn’t be seen dead at the doctor’s clinic, but for the fact that she cannot sleep at night anymore. There was this hand that began at her belly and worked its way upward and she couldn’t breathe. She didn’t mind dying then, but he dragged her, to Medical Woman, much against her will.

You, as a medical woman, lick your chops at facing such a ‘case’. Yes, she can visualize her rubbing her palms in anticipation, thinking, ‘Oh to sink my scalpel into your belly…’

She can hear every word said and those left unsaid. She sits there listening to the conversation you are having with the man and not a shadow flits on her face. They park themselves there discussing her and she doesn’t care. All she wants is to get away.

You give her a couple of sedatives. You make her sign. You make him sign. They don’t even read the papers.

She is ready.

She spends the night in darkness, the mosquitoes singing to her.

She is prepared and lays herself on the cold granite topped table.

Hmmm. Brown and Gray. Strange colours for an operating theatre.

She wishes the team all the very best. They look at her and then away. Their eyes look so warm above their masks. Their eyebrows like suspended caterpillars.

If only they would all be normal.

If only they would exchange banter, friendly like, you know.

After all it was she who would end up dead in all probability.

What was their problem?

If only.

Five hours later, only you didn’t notice the time, for you were ‘out’, you hear the friendly banter you have been waiting for.

Well, finally. You see flash bulbs exploding and your eyelids register them as flashes of orange. And you think, ‘Why the hell are they taking pictures?’ And then you look around groggy from all that and you see the thing you have been growing, harvested in a bucket. Yes, a piece of the creative you.

Medical Miracle woman takes the day off. Her staff of nurses keep a steady eye on her. She slips in and out, like a symphony fading out and coming back with another effort.

Medical Miracle woman feels a twinge in her abdomen.

She ignores it.

Physician, heal thyself.

A year later she’s gone.

The clinic changes hands.

The traffic moves past without knowing.

Without caring.

Deliverance, huh?

Another day, another life.

Thirst. The aches. Trouble in the pancreas. Not enough insulin. Wounds don’t heal. Going blind in an eye. Kidneys don’t flush out toxins. I work despite it all. My home a hell. My family gives me hell. My life hell. You get the drift? Hell. I ride an old, old scooter. I feel dizzy. I pause. If only this spinning stopped.

It did.

Nobody knew. I waited on the cold metal table. They came. Took a look at me and nodded. Took me away.

She called. He called. They called. She called again.

‘Hello?’

‘Could I please speak to –‘

‘I’m sorry he’s no more.’

She mourned his loss for a day. An entire day. He was her financial advisor. He made her take insurance before her surgery. He told her of the new savings’ schemes that were set afloat, advising her what would suit her family the best.

And now he was gone.

Well, he was family.

More than family. Family, often, was out to get you. Your money.

Now she mourned the death of an insurance salesman. Just last week, he had come around to collect her cheques for various payments and he spoke to her about his daughter.

‘I wish she knew what she wanted. She paints the most beautiful pictures. She has such talent. You must see her work. Do you know of any boy, you know, a suitable match… I would like to see her married.’

I shot him impatient looks when he wasn’t noticing and smiled when he looked up from his teacup. Well, how was I to know?

And have you heard of our priest who took on the role of escorting all departed souls to their final place in heaven?

Fools, they all hope for heaven. Now, I, I know I’m going down. Down to hell. Hell is where the action is. Black and red with flickering flames. A colour scheme to die for. People who are like you.

Heaven is not for me. Not with that wishy washy white and blue palette. With insipid clouds and monotonous harps.

Sorry, I digress.

About our priest. Our priest had problems. Tried ‘Home’ remedies. Fasted. Underwent purification rituals.

Now his son escorts the dearly lamented souls over the Vaitarini, the river you cross after death.

There are many ways of attaining salvation. Various paths lead to redemption. The catch is what kind you are looking for.

Well, there is no catch really.

Life happens.

Death happens.

The interval between the two is when it all happens.

Here is where it all happens.

The urgent need of the hour is to live, while you are at it.

I mean, like, really live.

So, when your moment comes, you are ready.

You certainly don’t want your epitaph to read, ‘Unfinished Business’.

I most certainly do not.

urgent

Urgent

A Harvest of Pain

She could feel their glares bore into her back as she walked past them. She whirled to catch them unawares, but they were too quick for her. Animated conversations, forced laughter and an obsession with the contents of their backpacks suddenly seemed to be inspired by her straight, unerring gaze.
This power she never knew she had, was incredible.
Shrugging indifferently, she continued on her way to her class. The crowd of milling teenagers parted to give way, strange that nobody seemed to recognize her anymore.
Hastily averted eyes.
To some she even seemed invisible.
She knew, she was there, and, somehow she also knew, that was all that mattered.
Strange, had it been just a month ago? A month since she had been part of a clique, the most sought after elite ‘club’ in the entire tenth grade. She had been on one of their special outings to a popular bowling alley, when afterwards, over burgers and coke, the conversation veered to one that she hated.
It was about a girl who wasn’t around.
The glee with which they tore her reputation to shreds, made her sick to the stomach.
Sicker was the predictable ease with which they would feign friendliness, when they met the victim the next time.
Worst was all when the victim would be oblivious to all effects of mutilation and bask in the extended warmth of the faux sunshine.
Or maybe they knew, she mused.
That was probably why no one ever chose not to appear at these little get-togethers.
Maybe they were not so oblivious after all.
Anyway, after one particularly horrendous maiming session by the reigning Queen Bee, she pushed her half eaten burger aside and said, ‘I’ve heard enough.’
And walked away.
From the royal court of the Queen Bee.
Disbelieving eyes and genuine gasps followed her as she walked away, heart hammering inside her rib cage.
She knew she had done the right thing.
She breathed in the fresher air of peak traffic and felt rejuvenated.
A shudder ran down her spine when she thought what the outcome of the unthinkable thing she had done, would be. She squared her shoulders and held her chin up. No, the deed was done.
There was no room for regret now. She had to face it.
And here she was, facing it.
It had been purgatory.
One month of sheer, unadulterated purgatory.
Not even the most insignificant minnow of the lot wanted to have anything to do with her.
Strange, they always had had a word for her, probably trying to gain access to the upper crust.
Now, she was nobody.
Less than nobody.
Her fall from grace was complete.
The inevitable question came up in class, ‘What have you learnt from your experiences at school this year?’
A buzz of banter and a million knowing looks later, she knew it would veer to her.
And sure enough it did.
A demure little minion of the Queen Bee stood up and gave a very detailed account of how she had been taken in by appearances. She concluded her very moving narrative with how she, the poor dear, learnt not to trust people any more.
Oh, the big bad world!
Everybody looked at her, expecting her to squirm.
But, she didn’t.
She had the conviction that for once, she had done the right thing.
She might have a knife being twisted in her gut, but she would look nonchalant, as nonchalant as a disinterested teenager would.
So, she perfected nonchalance till her wall on a social networking site came alive with references to her.
A thousand memes and long threads of discussions later, she decided to take things in her hand.
‘Hey, there! How’s life? What’s new?’
Silence reigned on the walls for about five minutes.
Then suddenly, the walls changed colour. News of movies, books and music splashed the walls, absorbing all attention.
Really, was that all it took to deflect attention? A direct confrontation?
Hmmmm.
Well, she was no fool.
She knew she would always be the outcast, for speaking her mind.
She knew the cold treatment would continue for a while, till they moved on to fresh kill.
She would not be part of any group.
Nobody would take selfies with her.
But, what the hell, she didn’t need to live with unease and dread any more.
She didn’t need to conform, for she knew she had done the right thing, hell to the consequences.
Whether things changed or not, some things would be constant.
Her books, her music and her writing.
Her identity. Her identity untarnished with cowardice.
Knowing that, she could live with herself.
At least her soul was intact.
She could harvest a little pain.

Cowardice