Category Archives: Life and Relationships

A Muse By My iPod

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Source: eideard.com

Source: eideard.com

The dark clouds stealthily started to gather bit by bit, inching their way across the vast backdrop of the evening sky that contained only a tinge of the fading crimson from the setting sun. It seemed like the drop of watercolor that accidentally slips off the painter’s brush and dissolves into the blurry water. The drop had already lost most of its intensity by now. The chilly breeze ran about in child-like delight announcing the arrival of the rains to the thirsty earth that had endured the intensity of the sun all day long. I sat in my luxurious balcony perched on the twenty-fifth floor across the beach, with my pen and paper, pretending to play the quintessential writer, and searching the sky, the setting sun, the clouds, the earth and the chilly breeze for my muse to reveal itself from behind these. But my presence seemed inconsequential to the rest of the cosmic plot that unveiled itself with mesmerizing precision, almost as though someone had been softly announcing the cues from behind an invisible drape. I continued to relentlessly elbow my way through the wide yonder looking for my place in the serene landscape.

It occurred to me just then how much the concept of love resembles the skies above me. I have heard people often declare what love means to them. It dawned on me that just like the vast limitless sky love is infinite and immeasurable, and what meets our eyes is simply an evidence of our restricted vision and our perennial need to define everything. There still exist depths of unstirred silence behind and beyond what our limited vision discerns. Just like love, the sky too dons different shades on different days each as much real or surreal as the other. While the warmth of the sun radiates in crystal blue on certain days, the pensive clouds give the sky a chimerical dreamlike appearance on other days. On some days, the colour of my tinted shades adds vibrant hues to my perception just as much as the presence or the absence of a person affects it. Then there are days when the city’s high-rises obscure the glorious firmament and distract my attention away from an unobstructed view. I know now that the sky is ‘love’ and ‘love’ is just like the sky – devoid of any single definition. It is simply a matter of belief and perception.

My gaze now returned to the earth which, like my heart, held in its bosom the warmth to nurture and create life after the skies had kissed it with rain and sun. But as my mind carelessly wandered about, my muse yet refused to appear before me this evening. By now, the sky had turned into a giant black hole within which sparkled a zillion fireflies! The clouds had melted into rains that tapped softly upon the earth bringing me a fresh scent of wet mud that lingered on in the darkness of the night. In some stretches of space within the compound walls, closer to the ground, the scent of wet mud blended with the fragrance of some wild flowers and leaves creating an untraceable soothing scent that appeared and disappeared as passers-by went past. Disappointed yet rejuvenated, I retired within the four walls of my room where my iPod lay. The soft yielding wires of my headphones had managed to entangle themselves for the hundredth time during the day.

My old discoloured iPod, on several inspiring evenings and sleepless nights, has gently walked me through or even rescued me from slipping into the black hole that exists within me; this black hole has no fireflies in it. The music that plays is the resonance of my own choices and inputs into it, so much like the mechanics of my own mind. From time to time the iPod needs to be recharged too. And when its wires get tangled and messed up as my own life often does, I am required to patiently untangle those knots one by one each time. I plug in the earphones now and pick up the pen as soon as this uncanny similarity strikes my eyes. It seems as though my muse has not stood me up this evening after all. It paid me a visit, just when I had stopped looking for it, just where I had least expected it to be. The soft tapping of the raindrops continued outside my window as the forces continued with their business. As for me, it was time to pick up my pen once again and put it to good use.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014

Layers

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The scales I bore
to wade through
the deep dark waters
with time
started to peel,
the feathers I wore
to vanish
into the vast night sky
one day seemed
ruffled and torn,
my limbs too
that I had carried
to reach out to another
someday
now seemed worn and weak,
my skin
once as bright as moonlight
turned wan and wrinkled.
Yet as I lay
in unstirred silence
still and restful
under the star-filled sky
my mind wandered light
far and beyond
in complete wonder and glee
as never before!

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014

Soulful Celebration: Dedicated To My Dear Friend, Amrit Barman. Rest in Peace.

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Source: Madhurima; View from Amber Park

Source: Madhurima; View from Amber Park

as the bougainvillea danced carelessly in the breeze
dislodged and lured away
for the first time
from its abode and attachment,
how inappropriate the name ‘bougainvillea’ felt
for a flower this playful and humble and carefree

of course the violet beauty
seemed oblivious and least intrigued
by this insignificant detail
as it continued its soulful dance
and why wouldn’t it—
it was free at last!

as it waltzed with the breeze
completely in love and admiration
higher and higher it ascended into the blue sky –
moving in quick concentric circles
all at once it swung into a graceful swirl
like the sacred smoke of an incense stick

it was free at last
thus its celebration justified
free from its bondage with the earth
free from having to selflessly appease
the butterflies and the bees
free to sing its own song at long last

my eyes followed it as it moved higher up
into the vast blue unknown
and then like magic
it disappeared
as if the violet petals
had burst into thin dust.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014; book Goddess & Whore.

Ceiling Of Solitude

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Source: cliphut.wordpress.com

Source: cliphut.wordpress.com


Like a single strand of hair
the frail fracture runs
across the bare ceiling
over my pillow space,
those black twisty cuts
have thickened with time
revealing at last
its lonely weathered face,
it has carried
the unbearable weight
of the rickety ol’ fan
that has turned each blade
in monotonous reflex
bowing to orders
like its enslaved clan,
I see cobwebs
stealthily spread
their tangled tentacles
o’er the sprawling white
that stares steadily at me
as I stare back
mocking each other
and seeking solace
in the still stifling night.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

‘You Think Only Women Are Stereotyped?’

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Source: ridiculouslyefficient.com

Source: ridiculouslyefficient.com

I often recall my childhood days when my cousins and I would get to meet each other more often; boy what a riot that would be! From my father’s side of the family, we were four brothers and five sisters, I being the youngest. My maternal cousins were of course much younger then, so I couldn’t quite reveal my demonic self as unapologetically as I did with my equally mischievous yet doting paternal cousins. Placing our age differences aside we would indulge in pulling each other’s leg, watching horror or comedy films, going on picnics and gorging on restaurant (junk) food every time we got together!

Over the years life has taken us in different directions where we have forged new ties and made new commitments as a companion, as a parent or even as an ambitious professional. But I have realised of late that in spite of our being so preoccupied with our respective lives that have moved at varying paces like parallel universes, our bond has remained intact, quite effortlessly in fact. I suppose it is the pure honesty within the relationship that has refused to fade off with time and so, on the eve of the release of my book ‘Goddess & Whore‘, I wrote a text-message to my eldest cousin brother, without a second thought.

In dizzying nervousness I sent him an image of my book’s cover that hadn’t yet been revealed to anyone. After that I waited in excited anticipation for his response that I have always greatly valued. After a couple of minutes I received a text message that read:

‘The title and artwork look exciting and provocative! What is the book about?’

This was a question that I could answer even in my sleep these days since I have had to ramble on about the book in the press release, the book’s cover and other collaterals too. In fact, I must have sounded just as rehearsed as I had feared I would as the well-manicured words poured out of me:

Goddess & Whore is about a woman’s journey, after she decides to disentangle herself from all her social identities, relationships and abuses only to discover her true identity. This story is conveyed through a collection of modern poems that question traditional mindsets and relationships even as they celebrate life and the bonds we share with each other. ’

The number of questions tossed at me from the other side was now increasing even as the time gap between them was steeply declining. I decided to rise to the occasion and brave the barrage of questions with utmost precision and honesty. We spoke of every dreadful word that had given me sleepless nights, like: promotion, marketing, timelines, pricing, et all. Anyway, just when I thought that I had managed to tackle the more difficult questions, I was asked why the book was titled Goddess & Whore. This had also by now become one of the FAQs that I could answer in a trance, though I still stood by every word I uttered:

‘Well you see, we dwell in snap judgments and extremities. We either glorify women as a mother or a goddess expecting her to be an epitome of selflessness, or we blame her for being a home-breaker or a whore! We are so used to stereotyping women that we are not able to accept her as an ordinary human being with desires and aspirations and her share of inadequacies and imperfections.’

Until now most of what I had explained had been received with appreciation and without the slightest demur. But following the last reply I sensed uneasiness at the other end. After a brief pause my brother replied:

‘You think men are not stereotyped? You think they have it easy?’

Those last few words suddenly seemed to stir within me a zillion stray thoughts that I wouldn’t quite say I was a stranger to, though it was very rarely that we dealt with it on an ordinary day. Things like, ‘It is not usual to see a man emotional. They don’t cry or get hurt as easily’ and so on. Men too are judged all the time. And more often than not they aren’t even granted the allowance to play the ‘victim’.

After some thought I informed him that the collection represented every human being as anyone could relate to the inner quest, the urgent need to realise one’s purpose in life, just that I had chosen my protagonist to be a woman…for a reason better known to me. I typed back:

‘Thankfully, poetry allows several equally plausible interpretations with no right or wrong answers but just an honest experience. The poems represent the eternal conflict within every human being and the constant search for a sense of peace. Hence, as the book mentions on its back-cover too, the poems represent the transformation of every human being in the course of his or her journey towards self discovery.’

He wished me luck and left me with my thoughts once again.

Now available on Kindle too!

Now available on Kindle too!

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Press Release: Goddess & Whore, Now Available Worldwide

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Goddess & Whore: Now available on BOOKadda, Flipkart, Amazon, Kindle, and in selected bookstores across India!

Goddess & Whore: Now available on BOOKadda, Flipkart, Amazon, Kindle and in selected bookstores across India!

October 2013, Singapore.

Goddess & Whore – a collection of modern poems – reaches bookstores worldwide this festive season.

Goddess & Whore – a collection of modern poems – weaves into a vivid narrative of a woman’s journey as she steps out of her various social identities and abuses to discover the true meaning to her existence. What begins as a nagging sense of disquiet and discontent evolves into a quest for inner peace. She draws inspiration from nature and begins to disentangle herself from all those relationships and resentments that she once carried, and only then does she discover her real indestructible self and makes the crossover that signifies the transformation of a being.

The poems celebrate the joys of womanhood and the beauty of nature even as they address certain social issues like the position of women, the rejection of the girl child, the violence against women, the traditions of fasting, and dated customs and rituals; and all these concerns culminate into a single question – ultimately what matters?

“The book aspires to convey the simple desire of a woman to be accepted for who she is, along with her dreams and aspirations, follies and foibles. She doesn’t wish to be glorified as a goddess nor be despised as a whore. At a broader level, this sentiment holds true for all human beings, whether man or woman,” explains Madhurima. “The book is available on Flipkart, BOOKadda, Amazon, Kindle and also in selected bookstores across India.”

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

My Goodness…My Goddess!

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Source: Madhurima (2010); getting a tattoo made of the Goddess Durga

Source: Madhurima (2010); getting a tattoo made of Goddess Durga

Source: Madhurima (2010); That's me with my goddess!

Source: Madhurima (2010); That’s me with my goddess!

The most potent concoction of fragrances that contains a zillion memories of my treasured past is the scent that fills the air in India during the start of the autumn season announcing the festival of Goddess Durga (better known as Durga Puja). The air, just rightly nippy, smells of fresh earth and paddy fields, flowers, incense sticks and camphor almost as though nature has performed its own celestial ritual of cleansing the space inside and outside all of us. Petite white flowers called the Shiuli with their sleek and slender crimson stalks and delicate lingering fragrance bloom in several parts of the country setting the stage for Goddess Durga to return home to visit her parents and family. We are her family. Like most children hers too latch on to their mother, and her four children – Lakshmi (Goddess of true wealth), Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge and arts), Ganesh (God of fortune) and her youngest son Kartik (God of valor and bravery) accompany her on her annual sojourn to her parents’ abode. Like a dutiful and beautiful wife and mother she embarks on her vacation home with her gorgeous children in tow where we welcome her with open arms.

For people of Bengal, who hail from the eastern part of India, this time of the year marks a special significance as they prepare for this festival, irrespective of which part of the country or world they live in. However, I must confess to being perennially struck down by nostalgia and thus highly unsuccessful in finding or replicating that spirit and space around me since I have moved out of India. I haven’t the slightest doubt that this is solely a matter of my own deficiencies and inabilities, but I am still to find those soul-quenching beats of the drum (dhaak) that I had heard in my childhood with my grandparents beside me. It was an explosion of energy that created a vibrato within my ribcage as every molecule and heartbeat in me resonated with that breathtaking rhythm. It was an overwhelming feeling, I recall distinctly. Since my grandfather always insisted on reaching the venue early during the evening prayers so he could hear the dhaak, I had the luxury of tagging along with him. The rest of the family joined the two of us much later after getting appropriately decked-up for the evening’s function that followed. During the prayers that my grandfather and I attended every Saptami (the seventh day of the festival) and Ashtami (the eight day) evenings the air smelt of incense sticks and fruits and flowers. The space smelled sacred.

In those days too, there used to be the ceremonial ‘dhunuchi’ dance on the eighth day of the festival (quite a stunt really!) where men and women carrying an earthenware filled with a layer of smouldering coconut husk sprinkled with incense and camphor, danced to the frenzying beats of the dhaak as they offered their prayers before the majestic idol through their dance. I have always wanted to perform that dance but my courage has always failed me at the eleventh hour. Perhaps one day I will. It was after this prayer that the crowd would begin to thicken and the air would start to smell of perfume and flowers, as the pandal (marquee) would fill up with gorgeously dressed men and women and their jubilant laughter and music. Where there are Bengalis, there must be music, arts, good non-vegetarian delicacies and of course sweets! And so these pandals were outlined by several food stalls that sold mouth-watering cuisine prepared by some of the most talented culinary-craftsmen!

Every stall was engulfed by a distinct aroma that would entice passers-by seducing and pulling them closer and closer till they succumbed completely to its hypnotic effect. Right from egg-roles, mutton roles, the inimitable moglai parotas, kebabs and cutlets, biriyani, luchi-aloor dum, delectable Bengali desserts, to tea, coffee, ice cream, mineral water and Coca-Cola…they had it all! The rankings of these stalls would soon spread through word-of-mouth by their boisterous clientele. Some stalls even ran out of food if we reached late! And there I’d be, in my gorgeous new clothes, running around with my friends far away from the jurisdiction of my parents who were only approached for money. Grandma had her own food stall that would be robbed of every morsel of grub even before we got there for a second or third helping. Grandpa played the quintessential consumer with utmost passion and humour.

On some afternoons there would be fun competitions like quiz contests, singing contests, drawing contests, among others. The most interesting among these was the ‘shankha-dhwani pratiyogita’ that tested the longest one could blow the conch shell without pausing for a breath. It was a test of one’s lung-power. The year I participated in that contest, I must have been in my eighth grade in school. Grandma would train me every afternoon and teach me the tricks and the science of the trade; she always taught me to be sincere and to honour every challenge that was tossed at me. I remember how I was introduced to the lady who had won year after year in that contest. I defeated her that year. I played the conch for over a minute, breaking even the record set in the past years!

Another specialty of these afternoons was the ‘bhog’ (a special menu of food that is cooked fresh by dedicated volunteers and cooks for offering to the Goddess) that was served to all of us on plates made of dried palm-leaves. Somehow the concept of catered food and packaged plates containing a formula-44 menu that I could easily purchase at just any restaurant seems like a disturbing and a much altered variant of the ‘bhog’. The concept of self-service rather than having volunteers running around to serve the hungry devotees seems like an unfortunate inference of ‘convenience’. In my younger days some of us eagerly volunteered to serve the piping hot khichudi or pulao that had been offered to the deity on that day. We learnt to put our own hunger aside to first feed the elderly and the children.

By the time I moved to college, we were in Baroda (a beautiful city in the western part of India) where these nine days of the Navratri festival were celebrated in a completely different style though it carried the same spirit as that of the Durga Puja! People danced in thousands, in concentric circles, to the beats of Gujarati folk music that mainly sang praises to the Lord Krishna or Goddess Durga. As though in a trance this huge wave of men and women dressed in colourful ghagra cholis and other traditional Guajarati dresses undulated in rhythmic grace for most part of the night. I would join my friends at the Garba grounds after marking my attendance at the Durga Puja pandal.

But beneath all the celebrations what few noticed was my growing faith in Goddess Durga. Every time I stood before the beautiful idol of the Goddess I felt humbled and overwhelmed as I would be consumed by a deep sense of calmness and assurance. Even today, from time to time, I have found strength and courage in those eyes. I have always known how much grit and determination lay within a woman’s heart – as a mother, as a daughter or even as a wife – and I have turned to that strength from time to time to fuel my own mind with that powerfulness and energy. However, I have never prescribed to the idea of glorifying a living woman as a goddess since I believe that the goodness and goddess resides within every human being, be it a girl or a boy. I have often found the crowds overlooking the finer (and more real) facets and honest desires of the human heart every time they have focussed their energies on putting one on a pedestal where one can be tagged as ‘selfless hence divine’.

The concept of God is personal and can be practised in a million ways but to derive a shallow corollary from that seems utterly convenience-based and therefore totally unacceptable. Goddess Durga always reminds me of the power of good over evil. I have seen a glimpse of Durga in several people beyond their basic identities and differences. During this festive season, I pray sincerely that we all imbibe the capability to notice the divinity in every human being and also respect the free human spirit, instead of being overwhelmed by the external façade.

Jai Mata Di! Joi Maa Durga!

Source: 8tracks.com

Source: 8tracks.com

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Goddess & Whore: Cover Launch!

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Goddess & Whore, to be available in bookstores soon!

Goddess & Whore, to be available in bookstores soon!

5 October, 2013. As we enter an auspicious time of the year, when we celebrate the goodness and godliness in every human being, I use this opportunity to share with all of you the title and cover of my upcoming book, ‘GODDESS & WHORE’. The book is scheduled to reach bookstores, in and outside India, very soon. I sincerely (and selfishly) seek all your good wishes and blessings that should help me retain my insanity and utmost sincerity towards life and my craft. The cover/artwork of the book has been consciously kept bold, festive and unapologetic – characteristics that resonate with the very essence of the book’s content and intent too. This book marks the beginning of a journey that should most definitely contain several lessons through which I shall get to know myself better, as a person and as a writer. Do bear with me, be with me and guide me through this journey…

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Life, With A Pinch Of Sugar Instead

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I have always felt that my keen passion for food has turned me into an intemperate glutton as also a complete epicure with an almost accurate power of detecting the individual condiments and spices concealed within a dish, that product of smooth and selfless blending of varying flavours only to create a greater magic, like all other things in life. It is as though the well-seasoned and prudently cooked fare speaks to me as I bite into that succulent piece bursting with juices; the luscious gravy beckons at me even as I cautiously savour a spoonful of the delectable fluid dodging that threatening little circle of smoke over it only to experience the explosion of flavours and textures of intelligently pounded and roasted spices; and I close my eyes so nothing around me can distract me from this gratifying experience. As those textures and flavours melt into my mouth I am able to track every one of those otherwise untraceable ingredients for its subtle aroma or for a tell-tale tang for people like me to notice. You see, it prefers to reveal itself only to those who care to seek it and value it. And I am only reminded of the flawless resemblance that all this bears to life and our own varying abilities to understand it.

While most people obsess over the obvious use of salt in moderating the taste in a cooked meal, which isn’t entirely fallacious, I feel that it is actually the slight drizzle of sugar into the simmering gravy that lends that extra zing and even astuteness to the taste and character of the dish that can no longer now be simply tagged as ‘salty’ or ‘sweet’. Be it the mild bitterness in taste or the burnt golden tinge of the caramelized sugar or its discreet presence only to soften the harsher lines of salt, sugar has always been a more assuring accomplice in this game of blending the obvious.

As an agent of delicious deception that leaves those who gobble and guzzle in pure delight incapable of simplistically describing the final dish as entirely salty or sweet, sugar has taught me great qualities of subtlety and discretion besides the power of sweetness. After all, too much of it will risk having it exposed! It has revealed to me the element of obscurity where neither life nor any person can be defined by a single façade. It has also trained me to observe the beauty within the intricacies that I slowly unravel with every bite and every sip…

Even at a young age I was able to tell whether it was the cinnamon that lent that tangy taste or if it was the coriander powder or the bay leaf or even the extra pinch of turmeric powder that lent character to a dish. And it would not be fully inaccurate either to attribute that uncanny ability to my love for eating. You might even think it is the presence of the ‘Bengali’ in my DNA that plays this trick and results in a loyalty for sugar, and there is a slight chance you may be correct too, but I would still like to believe that it is my sincere love for the undiscovered that attracts me towards these subtle complexities in flavours that make a dish more desirable and appealing.

In fact I have always believed that just like a gentleman is judged by his shoes, a character is judged by the food it consumes. Believe it or not, the kind of food we enjoy says a lot about the person we are. Conversely, it is our temperament, moods and beliefs that quietly govern the kind of spices or food we eat. As for me, I have always enjoyed that beauty within the mystery of life that reveals itself only to those who fearlessly delve into it, ready to surrender themselves to the infinite possibilities, only to discover more.

These condiments are no different from the paints on a canvas that mingle and merge with each other blurring the sharp lines and edges. It’s the way a good make-up blends along the right contours. Hence, for me that touch of sugar that lends softness to the overwhelming presence of certain spices and flavours has always been the supreme deciding factor about the ultimate appeal of a fare to our palate, and it is this soulful experience that allows me a glimpse of the condiments used. Every time I roll a portion of a culinary delight on my tongue, I am able to get a whiff of each distinct aroma of every spice. It is like a gift that comes with a few kilos of extra weight, of course…but I seldom regret that since my Bengali roots seem to bail me out on that front as well with a crafty and specious justification!

It was this love for food that drew me towards cooking, though I solely operate within the closed walls of my kitchen. I took to cooking not by choice but by necessity since the taste of my mother’s and grandmother’s cooking had zealously clung on to my mind and my tongue, and so to try and replicate it in order to sustain myself was the most obvious way to go about it. Though even today I find my cooking miles away from what the other two ladies in my life prepare, thankfully my gift to track that taste and tell the difference between their artistry and that of the likes of me still remains untouched.

It was my mother who taught me the use of sugar in the most unimaginable options like lentils, pulses, vegetables and of course curry! But you would never be able to tell, except for grandma, ma and me who can often trace the absence of this selfless sweetener by the sharp solitary taste of salt. The only time when sugar is not used is while seasoning or marinating poultry perhaps! I imagine this is because sugar refuses to stay in places where its presence is too obviously revealed. Instead, used in the right place and in the right quantity it melts, just like magic dust, irrevocably into the background only to exist as a lingering possibility that soothes the senses. And only one person could validate its existence with complete certainty – the one who cooked it. As for me, I choose to appear conveniently forgetful when a grumpy conventional foodie confronts me with the usual absurd loyalty to salt and a disdain for sugar in every-day meals.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

You and I, Seasoned With Poetry ‘n’ Fairytale

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I have come to believe that this magic potion called life that we unmindfully gorge on day after day and even occasionally gag on, is actually seasoned thoroughly with two unobtrusive ingredients that lend that untraceable yet captivating flavour to the main component, as they slowly sink into it layer by layer. These are a drizzle of fantasy and a dash of poetry that define and dictate the true essence of what we consume unmindfully that, in turn, decides who we become ultimately. And yet most of us, being who we are, seldom notice or even realize their presence and the power that this seasoning duo possesses. Instead, we attribute every other quality to only those condiments that meet the eye.

What we are able to conjecture are perhaps the more widely approved colours and textures that are tossed into the simmering cauldron to replicate that familiar taste that reassures us of our deceptive yet intoxicating sense of power instead of challenging our opinions of what we defend as the well-defined. Of course, those ingredients too are necessary to shield us from the unapologetic harsh reality that we bite into, as often we seem to have lost the capacity for accepting what stands unaltered. These condiments know the art of appeasing us so we may never know what lies beyond them.

How many of us are truly aware of who we are, or what we consume. And yet what we gobble up day after day, unwillingly or willingly, unwittingly or intentionally, decides what we shape up to even as we continue to define what we are tucking into. Not that I give credence only to what meets the eye- the stark reality- nor do I have a blind faith in the unreal imaginary world of fantasy, simply because I have little faith left in my ability to tell the difference. For me everything is real just as long as I care to believe in it. And yet, there must be events or circumstances that remind us of the existence of a world of reality that may not yet be within the realms of our familiar beliefs or conventional understanding. But such a world exists and so it must be real. Else, nothing is… nothing ever was. Though at times the latter seems like a probable option too, perhaps a harsher ‘reality’.

Flavours of poetry and fairytales, on the other hand, while defying the contradicting notions of ‘reality’ and defending fluid designs of possibility, add richness, zest, and a delectable array of magnificent hues and splendid aromas to the fare. They connect the impossible with the possible within the human mind, defining best the seasons within the human heart and often leaving it altered for life with a sense of wonderment towards life. They create a connect between us and life by blurring out the differences with their soothing touch so we are able to rise above what we cannot change and obtain the gift of being reverential as we notice life through all its shades.

It is that potion of poetry and fairytale in us that connects us to nature and life, lends us a pair of eyes that can see beauty and celebrate joy, and a heart that can weep in melancholy, pathos, love and happiness. It reminds us of our wanderer soul that can let go of all its possessions and rise above them to feel true liberation.

Our physical form too thrives on rhythm. The heart throbs in poetic beat while the mind drifts into the unfamiliar obscure realm beyond the familiar. We survive on hope and love that seem not unlike words taken from a fairytale. Notice an infant and you would have a chance of knowing what this means. You can mesmerize a young child with a wonderful story that happened behind those gigantic fluffy clouds, or even sing her to sleep with a soothing rhyme. It is in these acts alone that an infant feels reassured and at peace. And that is our first proof!

We have all, unknowingly or knowingly, fed on these two elements and thus they remain, even today, an integral part of our being. So even as people argue relentlessly about how poetry and fairytales are only for some people and not for the masses, I steadfastly hold on to the opinion that these two elements are actually an intrinsic part of the human consciousness. Literature and Science have, in fact, derived these flavours from the human mind and so they continue to stimulate and inspire the human intellect and have the power to resonate in every corner of our being even today. Poetry and fairytales are for everybody everywhere and for all times. If there is hope there is a fairytale too; if there is joy in beauty then there has to be poetry there as well!

There is much poetry and fairytale in our hearts and dreams even today. We might have only forgotten the art of noticing and exulting in their quiet presence due to the overwhelming presence of other much weightier matters. But we seem to have forgotten so many things that we would do well to recollect and rejuvenate… and remind ourselves that poetry and fairytale continue to remain an inseparable part of life and nature and the very essence of our existence. But as they say, good seasoning works its way through best when it is kept in the warmth!

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

That Bizarre Thing Called ‘Reason’

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Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

I bet every penny in my pocket that most of us, at some point in our lives, have been impulsively drawn towards things and moments that might have seemed of little value to the ‘reason-able’ mind or even on the ‘normality’ index that is drawn up by the most mediocre of all laws – the law of averages. It simply means that one needs to be at an average level to be ‘normal’. We have often quietly watched our minds wander about in the obscure wilderness of the lesser-acknowledged world that doesn’t promise anything in return but only an honest experience, even if it may be as short-lived as a moment.

We are sometimes irresistibly drawn towards the unaccepted and the unacknowledged terrain, in our unguarded candid moments, perhaps for the unadulterated rectitude these experiences make possible. Yet, most of us have mastered the art of kicking such unattributed inclinations under the carpet even if their secret scent may linger on our fingers for the rest of our lives. The weight of reason impudently tramples over the delicate and exquisite pleasures of an unadulterated moment, and the matter rests there most of the time for most of us.

We seem to have forgotten who we most instinctively are, who we were born to be, or who we so ardently want to be. What matters to us instead is who others want us to be, and what would be the most reasonable thing to do. We know exactly when we are caught in this slippery scheme of things when we explain ourselves with a ‘because’. At such times, the meek rationale-addict within me prods me with the questions, ‘Where will this take you?’ or ‘What will you get out of this, anyway?’ Questions that have haunted and disturbed me, and whose answers have eluded me on several occasions before being kicked in their butts and tossed back into oblivion once again. These questions have slowly spread their venomous tentacles inside the human mind only to surface as the powerful dictators of the human will.

Seriously, why must everything have a reason? Reason breeds comparison and judgment, and I have never seen much good come out of these two vices.

Well, in my case, this inclination towards having my heart wander has perhaps seemed a trifle illogical to others, but thankfully the tendency continues to thrive, much to the chagrin of well-wishers. I have grown attached to and even attracted to people and moments that have, in fact, held better reasons for me to do just the reverse! Perhaps it is my maverick heart that would never kneel before this bizarre thing called ‘reason’. Ask my heart why it loves the colour blue and it will almost always reply – ‘simply!’ My heart keeps tormenting me, even today, with its outrageously wilful ways that I cannot explain or suppress; you see, once again, for no reason at all. And without a single plausible explanation in its favour, my heart (or wherever that logic-less world within me resides) still seems to be getting its way with me effortlessly and shamelessly without a hint of remorse.

Ever since I learnt that I could make my own choices (though I fail to recall where or how I got that impression) I have been plagued with the perpetually unrequited need for sounding and acting sensible where practically everything is governed by an obvious and almost unassuming rationale. There always has to be a reason for doing or not doing something. I eat because I need nourishment. I sleep because I need rest. I went to college because otherwise I would die penniless. And many other things that I simply have to do because that is what everyone does. This indefatigable list manifests consternation and contempt for my life and me, managing to mock me in my face each time I decide to humour the logic-obsessed world around me. Being myself and owing no explanation to anyone, I know, comes most naturally to me. But that comes at a cost, though much smaller than what I would have to pay otherwise, I realised with age.

I have sensed soft murmurs from behind closed doors, tagging me as a girl ‘getting-out-of-hand’ in college, and a disrespectful youth for weighing respect against actions irrespective of one’s age or assigned/assumed status. Some have revelled in the thought that I lack a mature mind simply because I decided to remain my playful and candid self even as I quietly noticed every person’s vulnerabilities and strengths. And thus I have realised that ‘reason’ often leads us to misleading conclusions and deceptive proofs for inferences. But it has mattered little to me. It has mattered little to those I hold very close to me. That is why perhaps I dare to talk about it without a pang of guilt or embarrassment (wow, reason again!).

It is reason that tempts us to judge a person. It is reason that fogs our deepest desires and steers us away from who we were born to be, though thankfully for a little while, as life steadfastly and invariably shows up as the strongest antidote to this human invention of reason. Reason restricts and restrains a creative mind. Ever seen a child imagining his pencil to be a rocket? That child contains the potential to invent one too! But before she does it, we slap ‘reason’ right into her face and she relentlessly strives to be good in every subject that is thrown at her.

But there are occasions where the reason for a ‘reason’ seems quite unconvincing. Like: she is my closest friend BECAUSE she understands me; I married him BECAUSE our thinking matched. We even pray or meditate BECAUSE we have a need for peace within. It is not a question of right and wrong. It is simply an observation that every little detail in life runs on a REASON. We seem to need a reason for everything. So much so that, I am told, we are all here for a reason! Why would life be chasing an element that is purely defined by our addiction to assurance? Every choice seeks a reason for comfort and solace when solace merely awaits the mind that can act beyond reason or a motive.

But there are times when it does seem as if nature too revolves around reason. Why else should a flower attract bees with its sweet nectar if it weren’t for scattering its pollen? Hmm…now that makes me suspicious of my own understanding and practice. Perhaps among the few things that don’t seem to have any reason is this post of mine since surely it is no surprise to anyone that I haven’t the faintest clue as to why I wish to bring out and validate this absurd notion that has stalked me all my life.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Beauty In The Beast Called ‘Life’

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Source: wonderfulbuddha.wordpress.com

Source: wonderfulbuddha.wordpress.com

As it turns out, the concept of working-from-home comes with its own set of privileges and downsides. The lesser known truth remains that most of these basic privileges that seem to convince naïve minds of their potentially pleasing nature are in fact seldom exploited, highly assumed and vastly overrated rather than being frequently enjoyed. On the contrary, it is these privileges that most often become the greatest challenges and distractions for a person, the minute the others step out. As for the most conventional downsides, however long or unpleasant the list may be, they remain strangely unnoticed and even unacknowledged by others and by us too.

One such downside is the visit to the supermarket to buy household supplies. And trust me, these include the most uninspiring things like the toilet brush, dental floss, mothballs or bread and eggs! But sometimes, even the most mundane places can surprise you with a brilliant story idea. In my case it was a topic for my blog post.

As I waited in the taxi queue after concluding my purchases, I noticed a young Chinese couple waiting for their turn before me. The young gentleman was in charge of a pram, which carried an adorable toothless infant. I wouldn’t be wrong here to assume that it was their daughter. If there was one thing this tiny tot had learnt in these few months it was to stare at her father with the eyes of a devoted fan, as if the rest of us remained invisible to her.

Craning my neck over her daddy’s shoulder with unpractised artfulness I tried my best to grab the little one’s attention. But nothing seemed to distract her from looking at her daddy in complete awe. Occasionally she even wobbled her toes and arms as she chuckled to win some attention from the young man in return. It was so endearing that it distracted me from all the weight that I was carrying.

Her father seemed to know exactly when he should look at her and smile back, which he did quite frequently. He just knew when he should gently move the pram to and fro, or airlift the little frame into his arms and kiss her and sway her in his arms as they all waited for a cab. The mother like the proud concubine of that happy household watched quietly the two most important people in her life interact. At regular intervals she stroked her little one’s soft head, and her eyes remained focused on her companion as she spoke with him.

It was an effortless exchange of love, compassion, faith and complete surrender between a parent and an infant. What made those two grownups so capable of loving and nurturing a complete dependent? Where had the young infant learnt to trust another person so blindly and surrender to them so completely? There surely had to be a force within life and nature that inspired us to show such greatness with such humility. It had to be more than mere ‘attachment’ and petty ‘bondage’.

There are a zillion moments like these that one lives through during a lifetime. It is in fact these seemingly unassuming instants that fill me with gratitude for having got the chance to see life so closely as there was no way I could have fathomed the meaning of life or love in any other language. It is through the myriad emotions and diverse experiences that life puts me through that I learn to discover myself, even as I retain my ability to question it too, from time to time. And so I fail to understand the reason why many of us aspire to free ourselves from the circle of life and death.

My glance returned to the infant now, who seemed taken care of, loved and made comfortable.

“What a lucky baby you are to have got such caring parents. How else would you have learnt the meaning of love?” I thought to myself.

I was reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s words on children –

‘Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.’

It was difficult to imagine that the little infant could have a ‘background’ and history so profound, detailed and independent of his parents or even his present life. Perhaps if I could look more closely, beyond the deceptive young age of his exterior, I’d perhaps meet the soul of a wise philosopher or a stoic warrior or even a caring parent or lover. And yet, it had returned as an innocent and dependent child to be nurtured with love and care once again.

And thus as I continued to reflect on the circle of life and death, I once again struggled to fathom why we feel the need to be in a state of suspension where we don’t matter and where nothing matters to us anymore, where we are unable to appreciate the morning mist or enjoy the intoxicating rains or the comforting embrace of a five-year-old. Only in our human form do we learn to love and laugh, to lose and submit, and also to forgive and forget. Are these not great learning and experiences worth defending or returning to?

It is as a member of the human race that I am able to create another life. It is as a human being that I am able to nurture it selflessly only to let go of it eventually. It is only in my imperfect mortal state that I appreciate the strengths and vulnerabilities of others and myself and get the closest glimpse of life and its mystifying inexplicable ways! And in my material self alone do I retain the ability to visualize a much greater governing force and bow down to it. I become a philosopher, a poet, a parent, an ascetic, but only until I am within the circle of life and death. Then why must I treat this circle with fear and disdain, and mindlessly reduce its meaning to a handful of fancy words like ‘attachment’ and ‘bondage’. Our journey surely means more than that!

Judge me, if you must, but I deny and disown my right to obtain spiritual liberation by escaping the world. Instead I choose to be a part of it each time so I may return once again to feel the bond of love and kindness through every string of attachment and every reminding wound caused by loss. It is after all not so much about the beauty and the beast as it is often about the beauty within the beast called life that is of any consequence.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Psychedelic Desires: Ad For A Suitable Companion

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Source: angrylambie.buzznet.com

Source: angrylambie.buzznet.com

An educated, emancipated and feisty woman seeks a suitable companion who possesses qualities that rarely meet the naked eye and who values the same subtleties in others and in life. She eagerly looks for a friend who values the simplest things in life like the scent of wet mud, the quiet night sky, or the touch of cold breeze just before a heavy downpour. She seeks a comrade who can count on her on the gloomiest days and celebrate with her during moments of inspiring madness.

She seeks a friend who, just like his companion, is able to follow the simple expedient of preserving his dignity and propriety before he ventures to vindicate himself; one who has the strength to speak his mind, the patience to hold back his judgement, and the intelligence to tell the difference. She is in search of someone who has the compassion to understand, and the humility to feel gratitude; a person who shares a delightful sense of humour and a selective bad memory, qualities that neatly qualify as indispensable for a beautiful friendship.

Above all, she looks for a companion who has the eyes to look beyond the whiteness of the skin or the curves of the hips and thighs, whose smile does not rely on the size of his wallet, whose mind can soar above the clouds even on the cloudiest day, and who can laugh and love sans a single petty condition. She seeks a friend who can accept and rejoice in a companionship along with its differences; a person who can forgive and yet retain the ability to suffer remorse after hurting another. She seeks a person who notices the unbearable weight of a single teardrop or the unsettled glance of a pair of eyes that refuses to sleep.

She desires a knowledgeable mind that thrives on the perpetual hunger for greater wisdom and a thirst for the finer arts; one whose existence relies heavily on the power of spiritual wisdom and the exploration and appreciation of the unfathomable beauty of nature. She seeks a person who has an independent mind yet possesses the strength to confess his complete dependence on his companion out of love. She seeks a person who lends more air to her wings as she makes her flight, while he too possesses wings of his own and has a flight to make. But most importantly, she desires a companion who, just like her, is determined to work on a relationship with patience, compassion and hope, and give it everything it needs just like raising a young child.

Our girl promises the same commitments to her companion-to-be even as she also assures that a constant disregard for the other’s sense-of-pride could be a single unfortunate reason to dissolve everything that could have mattered, only for a handful of things that should not have mattered at all. This alliance will only survive until it is carefully carried with care and not unmindfully dragged by its hair.

Last but not the least, she is open to both men and women from any cultural background to contact her for this possibly lifelong alliance. Additional attributes and qualities like practical self-reliance and knowledge of music and poetry, love for food and travel, though not absolutely essential, will be preferred…rest all remains immaterial.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

What Grandma Knew Better

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In spite of my perpetual inclination towards the unbridled egalitarian human spirit, that invariably stereotypes me as a radical or even a painful rebel within an otherwise-perfectly-normal-and-peaceful-family, there rests a hidden world within me that brings out the apparent antithesis and a conflicting need within me. The latter world emerges out of the deep waters once the tides are low, at an innocuous hour when the sun is yet to rise and the entire cosmic space rests in unstirred silence and darkness. When I step into this world, individuality seems slightly overrated and even self-centered and lonely whereas the concept of conformism suddenly seems comforting even if it may be a little out of my comfort-zone as a giver every now and then.

This facet of my mind reminds me of my yearning for a family, it confesses to me the significance of those attributes of warmth and affection and bonhomie whose gravity soared above the realms of petty conveniences and practicality and whose impact could leave a heart altered and touched for life. Even today, when my mind is agitated by the silence within my self-drawn boundary that defines my own space, my mind wanders off into a remote yet apparently undesired possibility of a space filled with people and voices. That space around me that I so zealously guard from time to time from intruders seems no more than a barren land, unfriendly and forbidding. And I wait or even crave at times for someone to barge in with a booming voice and destroy my obsession for my sense of individuality and redeem my spirit of being an unguarded wanderer of the unknown.

In a world where most lives are gradually moving towards a more disciplined socialising pattern adorned by well-manicured protocols that I on a normal day would most naturally defend, the memory that comforts me most is of how I was always welcome at my grandparents’ house where I didn’t have to think of the convenient hours. I just knew I could go there anytime I liked and they would love me and be so happy to greet me! Grandma would pretend that her backache was gone so she could cook me my favourite bake! On the contrary, if I were to pick up the phone and call someone of my own generation I would have to think a zillion times about the hour and its appropriateness. To be fair to them I am, myself, duly guilty of the same practice most often when I prefer a prior heads up on how my following weekend would look like so I could plan my work around it. You see, it’s flawlessly convenient!

Any last minute variation to the revised almost accurate chronology that might involve more than five people on the surprise guest list would most invariably leave the likes of me hyperventilating inside, even more if it were on a weekday where the chances of winging it would be even lower for some unexplainable reason. Thankfully these freakishly scary mental images of being roped into impromptu action rarely spills onto the face, which by then carries the ‘what-a-pleasant-surprise!’ or ‘of-course-I’d-love-to-help!’ look in rehearsed reflex when inside it would feel like I had run out of oxygen or someone was plunging a knife into my hand.

Sometimes I wonder how the Smartphone generation got this way. On the contrary I grew up in a house thronging with guests and filled with laughter and parties. There were fewer bedrooms yet we never seemed to run out of space. Sometimes we even slept on the floor after we all had chatted for half the night over innumerable snacks and cups of coffee that mother quietly supplied from the kitchen. I don’t recall a single episode when my parents looked unhappy with visitors or uneasy for having to help people at an unearthly hour. Instead, our exams came and passed by like seasons, but that didn’t alter the pattern of guests at home – they were always welcome even if that meant that we had to quietly cancel our own plans. Declining a guest unless for an emergency was not an option. In those days, even the help at home wasn’t adequate nor were there enough machines to smoothen out the cleaning and laundry work. Yet, I am still to see my parents hit the panic button when the house is brimming with guests. It seems like such a pleasure to be visiting people like these.

Well, whom are we kidding here! Of course there were times when my parents and their parents too wished that they didn’t have to entertain those many guests at an uncomfortable time of the year! But they handled it differently. And guess what, they had their guests over anyway (most of the times)! How is that a smart choice? Well their loyalties and concern for one another wove them so close to each other that even during times of utter discontent my mother had a long list of people she knew she could trust with her eyes shut. Also, during times of celebration my parents knew they had so many loved ones who would be happy for us, who would bless us too. That is what that generation had earned! Loads of love, loyalty, companionship, good wishes and blessings! After all, this was what a family was meant to do, to flock together just like the birds, ants and elephants!

Instead it had started to seem too primitive or even obsolete a concept to many of us, by now, whose aspirations were driven primarily by convenience or a self-designed sense of individual space and justice. The head prevailed while the heart waited for a trial. Families slowly disintegrated into fragments where our only string of communication rested on the frail shoulders of the previous generation. Even today, the little that I know about my cousins and their lives is mostly through my mother. Sadly enough, even Facebook hasn’t played a vital role in establishing my loyal intent towards my family yet. We seem to have conveniently discarded things that haven’t suited us and tagged those as among the felonies of some manmade society while we have embraced ideologies that promote individuality to seem undeniably superior!

Most of us from this current generation tend to go incognito socially or explicitly announce our super busy schedules in advance so no social link starts to grow on us and weigh us down. We schedule dinners and lunches proudly as we conform to the practice where everyone is at the right place at the right time and there is also enough room and grub for everybody. Under such conditionality clause how easy is it to remain unpretentious? I have often felt a blatant disconnect between relatives and friends in such gatherings where only the unfaltering rapport among the previous generation has seemed assuring and comforting to me.

Today, even when my mind can relate to those of my generation and beyond, my heart yearns for that unconditional affection that I once received from the generations before mine. Sure, there were pitfalls then but it isn’t fully correct either to believe that we have got ourselves a fair deal – and that is the point here. I find myself a complete misfit as I crave for those family reunions that I grew up watching. I have decided to dismantle my panic button for good and step up for some traditional-style family time!

While I am no patron of social sanctions, I still wish we retained our abilities to distinguish between the attributes within a society that resonate with our human spirit of bonding and belonging as against those that we deceivingly device and construct only for the sake of it. I doubt if this is any less of an apocalypse for humankind and I won’t be surprised if our future generations called us primitive too for selfishly deconstructing a society that our forefathers once built. Perhaps this is where we stop and ponder…

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Are You Sanctioned Yet?

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece titled ‘Lust for Likes’ that spoke of our perpetual need for gratification through the verdict of the Collective, irrespective of the level of competence of the latter to pronounce a judgement. I am not sure how qualified I am to testify to the latter’s capabilities in this matter; however, I do believe that any independent opinion such as mine must count and so I must speak. In the earlier post I had mentioned how it was the number of votes in our favour, as evident, that mattered to us. The rest was amicably yet confidently damned.

Be it a piece of writing or an unadulterated opinion, both await response, if not recognition, from those around. Heavens forbid, if either should receive a not-so-positive acknowledgment (or no acknowledgement at all), then we are almost always convinced of our own incapability, instantly despising our sensibilities and expressions as we grapple helplessly in the dark for any scrap of consolation that would assure us that the ‘me’ wasn’t yet entirely worthless. We contain an inherent quality to doubt ourselves and an innate ability to trust the negative with regard to that self.

Just when I thought I had conveyed my remorse over our addiction to social attestations to our independent works and ideas, I noticed that the primary fault lay far deeper within a need with a pedigree that had been realised years and years ago when man had created the concept of social norms and behaviour for his immediate benefits then.

Here’s an oversimplified (almost stupid) outline of how I interpret the evolution of and the need for a society. When man decided to settle down and not wander about, he needed an assurance that things would be available and safe while he was stationed in his area of choice. But he eventually realised that nothing would come for free, and that he needed to be socially accepted first. He also figured that there was a possibility of conflicts if everybody had their way. So there needed to be a definite hierarchy and set of rules that favoured him and made his life unencumbered by stress and impediments. That is when the problem started.

In an attempt to straighten things out in his favor, he then created norms that reaffirmed and validated a defined set of right and wrong. In a jiffy, the inspiring intricacies of the otherwise free human mind and will were combed out following an oversimplified rationale and an even stunted intent. Since that moment we have only devised more and more ways to detain our minds and seize its spirit, threatening it from time to time in name of society.

With time these norms slowly became customs and traditions, and these customs that were initially designed to match our “requirements” slowly started dictating our mindsets. Over the years they established their unfaltering supremacy in our lives as a culture, and this we eventually came to regard as our cultural heritage. Before we knew, we had already fallen prey to the giant obsession for social acceptance.

We had to define and justify every relationship and every intention in a way that was expected of us by the society. Relationships needed validation; they often needed a sizeable justification too. Among these, a fair chunk of social sanctions were smartly weighed against a rational need and a thick smog of right and wrongs masked skillfully by a feel-good (and dangerously misleading) phrase – good intentions. This phrase has always made little sense to me.

Relationships too, just like schools and banks, were institutionalised, and that was all it took to get socially sanctioned. And just like the various kinds of bank accounts, there were different kinds of relationships too! And so they were legitimate (whatever that meant)! It was all good to keep us organised and safe within the parameters of law and order requirements, but I believe we took it way more seriously than that. Eventually, the legitimate became synonymous to the accepted that then became ‘right’. The others, that included moments of unadulterated yearnings and thoughts, roamed about like refugees and absconding convicts in the darkness of the night, since then. They refused to be tamed anyway.

Though even the sanctioned world too, just like the unsanctioned side, did bear the brunt of this obsession. I know a friend who had trouble finding a companion for himself after enduring two divorces in a row. The greatly glorified divorces had done an outstanding task in tagging him as the unworthy, or unreliable, or unlucky. His very own brother, on the other hand, who eventually decided to marry someone of his parents’ choice didn’t seem to bear that tag. Instead he became the ideal son. It didn’t matter if he had had an affair or a series of affairs before that choice. We only continued to see what was sanctioned.

Profound emotions like love and compassion too now waited in the same queue to be resized, sanctioned and stamped by innumerable rules like loyalty, duty, responsibility that waited to tickle our abused conscience and reaffirm our un-emancipated commitment towards making ourselves more mean-minded and shallow. Like a butcher we chopped and trimmed the very scope of those words into a handful of petty sanctioned relationships just the way we sliced the land into senseless bits. We took care of only what was ours, or so we thought it was.

In due time we seemed to forget those uninhibited emotions and the innumerable relations that slipped by into dark wilderness for having been unsanctioned or for having lived for a time span less worthy. Our minds had been manicured by then, and we all looked and felt and acted in the same way. We proudly called ourselves a society when instead we should have called ourselves a toy factory.

A levy and a sanction, which, I knew, were nomenclatures to defend the economic world, govern our social lives too, or at least, they still do in many parts of the world. These social sanctions only reduce us to mere commodities that are scanned at every station and then stamped in approval or disapproval. And most of us keep ourselves securely locked up so none of our insides spill out as we totter our way through each conveyor belt, keeping our anxious fingers crossed so that we are socially sanctioned just like the dirty luggage on the dusty conveyor belts at the airport or railway station. Any unrecognised luggage is treated like an explosive, a probable instrument for acts of terror …and will simply earn itself suspicious glances from those who have their head held high after being socially sanctioned.

This amalgamation of requirements that included a few lop-sided rules, among others, today seems sacrosanct and unbending in many parts of the world even now. As a result, we need social sanctions at every stage today in spite of being in a world of social networks! But must we always have everything defined within oversimplified closed quarters and parameters? Must we tag everything as right and wrong, good or bad? After all, how much right is right? Who decides? Why follow?

Must everything be weighed against self-appropriated consequences? Why can’t a thought, a moment, a relationship, an impulse count just as much, in its entirety, without having to scream out its meaning or significance? Why shouldn’t an indefinable relationship aspire to exist without any motive or definitive ending? Have we completely killed the wanderer in us? Are we willing to sacrifice our inherent free will of the wanderer? Or is it not the worst form of   sacrilege of the human soul?

A new life is now tagged as legitimate or illegitimate just like other contractual relationships that have been drafted and resized to fit the petty mindsets in the name of social security. And yet, how many of us feel socially secure today? I remember reading a book recently that said that earlier there used to be far greater humanitarian values where households would accept and take care of an orphan child who was unfed or homeless. It was only after certain religions disapproved of unsanctioned relationships and lives that people turned away from and refused to be associated with the allegedly ‘illegitimate’. ‘This is mine’, ‘that is yours’, ‘she has wronged’… these judgments have only torn us apart and given us a fake sense of power to criticise or condone one another. On the receiving end, those judgments have started to matter to us far more than they should have.

I shall refrain from commenting on the role of religion and let you make your own inferences and belief for now. I just know that religion has cost us several lives and the world’s history is a solid testimony to that. Be it the holiest city, Jerusalem or the Babri-Masjid area, these landmark sites in history have only tried to tell us about our futile attempts to own what belonged to all of us. It only tells us of our twisted and petty self-designed sanctions, be it religious or social or political. It only spells our incapability and stubborn efforts to conquer, capture and sanction a fragment of the free land or the free human spirit. Yet we refuse to learn.

The day we learn to set our minds and hearts free of all sanctions shall we redeem that lost wanderer’s soul within us that is capable of looking at itself as a part of a much larger creation. What a futile conquest it has been so far! I wish we had spent half that time to conquer our minds instead so we could defend that free world within and around us.

I don’t intend to overlook or deny the amount of progress individuals and developed societies have made where they are free to express themselves, define their sexual preferences, and occupy themselves with the work of their choice. It is only that I am unable to overlook that vast majority that refuses to evolve with the changing times, thus making the concept of a society seem so immaterial and inconsequential suddenly. They are the sorts who judge you for what you speak, what you wear, and who you talk to (with regard to your socially-assigned status, mind you). I have despised such people ever since I can remember and shall continue to do so.

Of course, I don’t count myself as the solitary reaper though I dare confess that the solitary confines of my workspace do lend me far more seriousness and gravity most of the times. I am also aware that any statement as this would only culminate into a longer list of people who despise me or de-recognize me (secretly or otherwise), as they have from time to time. But being perfectly aware of the unfortunate plight of our majority today, a fear like this seems no different than a self-inflicted wound, a self-assumed threat or even a form of blackmail to me.  According to me, sizing down an individual’s independence and choices is the worst form of abuse of the human spirit.

I have noticed the names and faces that appear and disappear each time I announce my perspective, and as much as I would secretly want to please each of them, I am constantly reminded of my loyalty to my own mind and its opinions first. My choice therefore is unanimous. And, I welcome everyone’s perspective with equal respect just as long as you can convince me that it is your independent mind that is talking to me.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013