Thursday, December 21, 2006

Season`s Greetings.!

Pic Couresy : bigfoto.com

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a heartwarming Prosperous New Year.! It has been an eventful year 2006. I have felt jubilant, have felt sad at times, have even felt funny or alone, but thanks for being with me to keep my spirits up. Thanks for keeping me waiting for that one single beautiful comment, which made my day every day of the year. As I prepare to take a short vacation, from work, from the world of blogs, I wish you all a great colourful time, with plentiful season`s cheers.!

.

Let us celebrate the birth of a new dawn, a new day, with a prayer that all may be happy, all may enjoy this glorious new year 2007 throughout this world.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Discovered Alone.


Tall are the trees, they whistle and sway
Long lies the path, lonely and grey
Painful is the thirst, “Will I walk today ?”
Life keeps you strong, let us pray

The peak lies high, upon the brown cliff
Grown, I have just a foothill tall
Hungry and Tired, “Will my hands remain stiff ?”
Look at the peak, love it and forget all.

Lonely, I stand as the world moves afar
I was loved, in those days, happy and warm
Forgotten and untouched, “Will I blend again as par?”
Sleep to the tunes of time, as the world regains calm

Reached, I have far, yet struggles remain dark
Dreams uncared, elusive horizon is my fate
Hope springs alive yet, “Who are you?”, I ask.
I am your inner voice, your soul my dear mate

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Scripted in Stone

It was one January morning in Chennai while I was going home, that I noticed this tall statue on the side of the road. I was really impressed by the power the statue seemed to emanate from it`s body language, it`s mere stance which seemed to speak volumes, and yet, I was not knowledgeable then as to who the lady was and what she represented.

.
It was months later that I came to know and read 'Silappadhikaram', the brilliant epic, by Ilango Adigal. In India, everywhere we see a lot of statues everywhere, be it of old British Viceroys or be it of gallant freedom fighters or poets, but it is not often that we come across a mythological figure or rather a historically unconfirmed figure who has been honoured with a statue. In that respect the Kannagi statue is something deeply symbolic and central to Tamil culture.
.
The chastity of a woman, her purity, her complete devotion to her husband, these things might sound utterly meaningless today to the modern world but this story and this statue shall remain greatly representative of the ideological and social strength and regard our older society had for the fabric of a family and it`s important contribution to the society. Kannagi was a woman who fought against injustice to her husband, merely with the power of her devotion and her chastity as per the epic.
.
Like many may claim, I truly find it hard to see this great lady as a symbol of female oppression. Mainly because, she was not always the submissive or the oppressed victim. She stood against the whole Kingdom of Madurai with her courage and fiery eyes, and made the highest sacrifice. She forgave an adulterous husband and stood beside him, until the end. To me, she is the ultimate symbol of feminine strength. Endurance is a great virtue and woman has been bestowed with loads of it. That again does not mean that I am advocating oppression against women, but I am simply awed by it, and who better to represent it than Kannagi.
.
She is still worshipped as a goddess in many places, but she was no goddess, according to the epic, but an ordinary lady who showed extraordinary strength. In December 2001, she was removed from her pedestal by the beach, by the J.Jayalalitha Government, citing astrological reasons. What a sad plight!, or perhaps it was indicative that times were changing and will remain changed, but the government toppled as expected and this evergreen symbol of Tamil culture, art, poetry and tradition was reinstated by the successive government. Governments do a lot of things and they might not be representative of the people`s aspirations always, but yet whether there is an inherent meaning to this whole exercise, only time will tell.
.
Meanwhile I shall simply be most elated to stand, admire and feel powerless in front of that magnificent statue, a great history scripted in stone.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Rational Analysis.

It was a small room, with sunlight streaking in. There was a small table by the window and some fresh flowers in a white vase upon it. The bed looked cosy and comfortable. It was with some nervousness that Sanjana had entered the room. It was going to be her first real work of professional journalism after all the grunt work, she had been toiling with. But after absorbing the freshness of the room, she seemed to regain some confidence.

“Good Morning!”, announced sanjana with great enthusiasm in her eyes.
The dark lean girl, sitting by the window turned back and looked at her with surprise and a slight irritation evident in her eyes.

“Are you the lady from the papers, here to interview me ?”, questioned the girl, with keen eyes through her spectacles.

“Yes, I am the lady, but we are also going to be good friends... aren`t we ?”, replied Sanjana smiling at her first ever interviewee.

The girl remained quiet. She did not seem very earnest to have a great conversation. Sanjana seated herself on a chair opposite the girl with her file in hand. She took out her small notepad and her lucky hero pen , her father had gifted her, when she first filled the application form for a degree in journalism. Her father would have been proud of this moment of hers. She could almost see him blessing her.

“So Anupama, tell me how do you feel here, in this lovely…”
“Have you ever been molested before ?”, interrupted anupama, with seething anger. Sanjana was immediately at a loss of words. She no more felt confident. She was twenty seven years old and right now she had no answers to give this fourteen year old girl who had confronted her. She felt dumb and speechless, unable to collect her thoughts and words.

“Anupama, I was …”,
“Have you ever gone hungry for three days at a stretch ?”, she interrupted again. And Sanjana was done. She suddenly felt like a child who had been robbed of her ice cream. She had completed her degree in journalism and had worked hard with a local newspaper doing proof reading and the like and had at last, got this opportunity to make a report on the children picked up from the streets and rehabilitated, especially this child, Anupama, for the paper. She had gathered most of the details about the rehabilitation center, which had picked up Anupama from the streets, about many other children with similar plight.

She realized that this small lean frame of a girl had perhaps seen more of the world than she herself had, in her career and more importantly in her whole life. She could not continue and she just blurted a good bye and ran away from the place. As she reached home , she looked at the mirror. She looked haggard, with all the tears. She noticed that her arms were trembling. She threw away her file and collapsed on the bed.


The next day she woke up to the smell of coffee, her father, was boiling in the kitchen. She felt fresh and light, but the shock was still there. The night`s rest, however had done good and there was this steely resolve building up in her mind, to get over the initial obstacles come what may.

She took bath and spent some moments in front of her mother`s photograph, which seemed to give her more strength and sat down for breakfast with her father. Her father was a retired army colonel and was usually earlier than her to rise in the morning. It had always been like that, especially after his wife`s untimely death, his routine had only become stricter. She told him all that she had gone through and how she was shocked and
had returned without resuming with her carefully built questionnaire.

“Pretty evidently, you have not done enough homework, Sanjana. You have to find out about the girl. What problem she is facing and how she landed up there.”, replied her father who always spoke in a straightforward manner. “Thanks..!”, she replied and hugged her father before leaving.

She went directly to her office and met Mr. Rohit, her mentor and guide, and told him all about what had happened. “Sanjana, before you go for interviewing someone you need to do a background check, find out about them completely. Almost ninety percent of the facts for your article is ready before you do the interview. The actual interview in itself is only for that personal touch you give to your final draft. Also meet up with the coordinator of the rehabilitation center, talk to a child psychologist and try to understand how the child thinks.”


“But I don`t know any child psychologist”, replied Sanjana.
“Well!, I guess then you will have to find out.!”, replied Rohit with his trademark chuckle and left to pursue on another assignment.

She was about to leave the office, when she bumped into Mr. Dhavan, the editor and her boss. “How`s your article shaping up, Sanjana”, he queried. “Coming up fine, Sir. I was just off to find some child psychologist to gather more material.”, she replied.
“Oh!, you could meet Dr.Shantha Vasudevan, of Sunshine Hospitals. I`ll give her a call. You go meet her.”
“That would be great, Sir. Thanks a Lot!”, she answered with the happiness of a great burden having been lifted from her heart.
“Don`t thank me, just give me a good writeup with some rational analysis from your side”.

She then went and met the doctor and learnt all about the emotional trauma, children have, when they hit the streets, the angst and the desperation of having been orphaned, the things they look for, from a helping hand. The ways in which their lives could go the wrong way and how much they yearn for the happiness they see in other children`s eyes when they go to school with their parents. She also came to know how their innocent outlook of life is drastically changed when they face the harsh reality of the streets and how they are prematurely toughened up, most often spoiling their life in the process, ending up in jails or brothels or how they get hurt and end up as beggars.

Sanjana, was each minute learning that she was actually on her job, learning more and more and pursued more. She collected as much details about the girl, anupama as possible. It turned out that Anupama, had been a normal child like anyone else, went to school, had loving parents, but during some caste riots had lost both her parents and had been thrown to the streets, in a cruel moment of fate. With hunger and fear as she moved around, she was thrown against all the harsher conditions of the city. She eventually found herself in a brothel from where she was rescued and brought to the rehabilitation centre. Anupama`s story had been hugely representative of the cruelty meted out to child by an indifferent society.

Sanjana, through the course of her research realized that a newer perspective was required to the whole situation. She realized that she was not responsible for only telling the child`s story, but also telling the world that this victim is actually a child. She needed to bring out the child in Anupama and show to the world that here was a little girl who has suffered but deep down her heart, unmindful of the external picture of misery and injustice, she still was a child.

It was a week afterward that Sanjana, felt compelled again to visit Anupama. It was in the evening that she finally reached that very room from which she had run away. Anupama was sitting on her bed in silence with dreamy eyes. Sanjana today noticed how beautiful this little girl was. Sanjana smiled at her and sat opposite the girl. She did not speak. They sat in silence for a few minutes. It was a moment of peace, a moment of reconciliation, a moment of understanding.

After some time, as Sanjana got up to leave, Anupama suddenly spoke, “Can you take me to the garden outside?”. Sanjana was happy. Here was that first moment of selfless conversation between the two. They walked outside in the garden for sometime and sanjana looked on as the girl caressed the yellow flowers.

“Anupama, I am writing for the paper, a story about the beautiful child that you are.”, announced Sanjana. Anupama was silent as they walked back to the room. As Sanjana started to leave, the little girl asked shyly, “Can we write it together ?”. This was what Sanjana had all along hoped for. She laughed and said, “Yes, we must write it together. That is why I am here.”

In the days afterward, Sanjana was a regular visitor at the center and Anupama, a great companion. They explored different worlds in each other`s thoughts and words. Sanjana had started looking upon the girl as her own little sister by now.

A week later, Sanjana submitted her final draft to Mr.Dhavan with great pride. He was very happy to see a jubilant Sanjana and congratulated her on completeing her first assignment. “I hope you have put in a rational analysis as I said, Sanjana”, he remarked.

Sanjana, beamed similingly and replied, “Rational Sir!, Very much Rational!”.


Illustration courtesy –
Dick Heimbold, Vincent Van Gogh and Vern Hippensteal.