Friday, May 23, 2008

Parents, (Z)AA(W)D(I)ASS, Z and Me

The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but to hold hands.
- Quoted by Alexandra Penney in Self
I knew my parents would never give me the permission. Yet I had decided to take a chance. I had decided that I wouldn't be asking for the second time if they refused. I had felt I had a rejection even before I could ask. I told my father about the plan and politely enquired if I cold join my friends. He agreed. Few minutes later mamma too agreed. It's not that I couldn't believe but I knew there were new experiences waiting for me. So inshAllah on Saturday at 12 noon I would be boarding a train to Coimbatore with seven more friends. We will visit Ooty, Kodaikanal and perhaps even Coonoor. InshAllah we will be back on 29th.

I had never been out of house for so long anytime before. With my parents and brother I have been to many places but this time I won't have them around and it will be my longest time outside Hyderabad. There is a bit of anxiety and questions like "why am I going?" or "is it the right thing I am doing?" The answer is simple: we have such questions whenever we get to do something for the first time even if it is made perfectly alright by Allah. I only hope I remain in accordance to what Allah wants from us. I will miss my parents and brother with no doubt, but with seven friends around, I will miss the other five, who won't be with me, a lot more. I don't even know how it's going to be. I would have as well stayed back home and met them at least once. But it's time for me to go. Time won't let me wait for them. They won't wait for me.

I had to iron five pairs of clothes - one to be worn for the journey and four once I reach there. I had to spend some time deciding what all I might be needing and what kind of clothes I must carry. I am still not sure if I should carry my shaving kit with me. I am leaving the deodorants back home. I spent time on deciding which jacket I might be needing there. I made my arms and legs do some physical work after a lot many days. I even walked around 5 kilometers today. It wasn't fun at all but it was peaceful. I will be back in five days but it seems to be a bit larger than what it could ever be - I might not get a chance to spend so much time with these friends again. I would butcher the whole world to have the other five with me in a similar way - colloquially! Nobody does that.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Incredible Lessons From Damned Teachers

Fratres! Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line. Stay with me. If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled; for you are in Elysium, and you're already dead! Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity.
-Maximus, Gladiator
Some times it's nice to see people behaving peculiar to their characters and some times it's funnier to watch myself do that. When I see people making mistakes I keep quiet wondering how many times I must have done that and nobody questioned me. The concept of "if... then... else" is amazing. It shows simple ideas implemented as plans, worked on severely, repeatedly, worked with again, and again, unless they become trite and distinctively understandable when simple low level observation is made. It's difficult for me to make that observation on myself. I am more worried about how I am to the person I see in the mirror and toward those I care about.

I hardly took any rest since the time I woke up in the morning. And when I took some time for myself in the evening, I had my parents after me. I had to go out in the afternoon with a friend to give him company for some official work of his. Then it was necessary for us to fill our bellies. We went to a place that serves shawarma which my cousins tell me is a lot like what they ate in Saudi Arabia. The moment I reached home I had to arrange all the documents into sets and leave for my mother's office. We had an appointment with a charted accountant.

The bag I carried to mamma's office was too heavy - it had original papers from banks, income tax department and municipal department. I had to hold that bag tightly keeping an eye on every single move it made without my interference. Some minutes before I was leaving my house I to search for my glasses. I tried to recollect every place I went after I reached home. I searched in the place where I keep my watches, I looked inside the wardrobes, shelves, drawers, refrigerator, into the mirror, in the bathroom, freezer, on the beds, sofas, pockets of my clothes and every place I could imagine myself keeping them. I kept my brother busy too until I found them on the silvery metal of the stove in the kitchen.

Every person who makes a mistake has something to teach without his own will. Every person who makes a fool of himself is the one who teaches us how to keep our dumbness within ourselves. And those who can't make decisions for themselves by using their own value judgements teach us about the freedom and pride we can achieve when we learn to choose the path not having to emulate the masses. Even a flirt and also the one with whom he flirts, both, have something with them to teach us. They teach us what we need to stay away from. I wonder if I am missing something I may teach myself!

I am prejudiced and biased most of the time. I only try to do what I think is right. There are many people out their shouting their thoughts which too are overly biased and speculative. There are people out there always telling us that the sky is falling down. There is negativity pulling us backwards and stopping us from taking any bold steps. There are people who are also always criticizing the rulings of their own religion. Nobody is ready to take the responsibility of an advice they give. They don't take their advice themselves. All these people have something very important to teach - that we should never become like what they are. Being prejudiced and biased is still fine. What matters is what we do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Wish I Could Write More and Better

Naw, happens all the time, somebody else's blood splatters on me. Hey, wait a minute... you're right! You made me bleed my own blood.
- Nelson, The Simpsons, Season 1, Episode 5
It's hard to decide at times what the right thing is. Especially when it doesn't give any peace and I don't want to lose any friend, especially after deciding that I have to stay at a distance from one it becomes more difficult. Some times I feel I am overflowing with love for some people but because I don't know what exactly to do with it I just have to stay like always. It's just the way it is. It's just the way I am. I sincerely hope that everybody remains happy and nice always.

Yesterday I made a big trip to the bank with my mother in the morning. We opened a joint account which was my second, filled in many many forms, met many people there who wished me good luck and said things about UTD and Dallas. My aunt works there and my mother being her elder sister found a lot of respect almost instantly. From there I had to walk some good distance under that humid sun and get myself sweating. I walked upto my mother's office with her to be in her company for at least for that much time.

Later I went to my maternal aunt's place where I was feeling very sleepy. I had slept early morning after 4 am and it was getting difficult keeping my eyes open there. I took a nap and in the evening with other two cousins went out. My parents called me and asked me to reach home before 9 pm. I decided to stay out till 10 pm at least but still reached in time. I was told that I had to sign some papers when I reach home. And when I was here, it took me less than two minutes to finish it. I asked my father if it was necessary for me to get home early. He hardly spoke anything on that. I wanted to go to a cousin's place even today but stayed home all day and slept. Then had a chat with a friend in the evening and time has been passing smoothly since then.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Every Story Is A Love Story

My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
- Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump
Mangoes have replaced bananas these days in my breakfasts. I am having coffee no more. It's milk with Bournvita and three small spoons of sugar in it. When summer ends I will get back to coffee. I don't eat fried egg daily anymore. It only happens when mamma prepares it for me before she leaves for her office in the mornings. Today she had it ready for me even before I left bed. I closed the door a good 30 minutes after she left. I was on the divan in the living room as she said good bye and I felt asleep. When I eyes opened again I ran and shut the door closed. All doors are supposed to be kept closed unless somebody has to get in or somebody is going out. They can be kept open to let air in or some times just to see what's going on on the other side of it.

I slept again after an hour. Then my brother arrived and I slept again. I went to take a bath and I was already getting late for the prayers. I was hungry then and while walking back home after the prayers I began to think what meal awaits me in the fridge which would fill my empty belly. I knew there was bhaaji daal with ambada in it. Apart from spinach I recognize none of those leafy vegetables but I love their taste when cooked this way. While walking I imagined how it would taste if I could fry an egg and have it with that daal and rice. I had water in my mouth. The moment I reached home I fried an egg.

The egg was still on the pan with noisy bubbles. I don't like eggs much but some combinations excite my taste buds. I also had to warm the daal and rice before I could satisfy my watering mouth and a hungry stomach. I opened the fridge's door and found the daal's dish right in the front. I looked for rice. In all the transparent glass shelves. I looked in the freezer. I looked on the dining table. It wasn't there. There was no cooked rice home. I immediately recollected mamma asking me yesterday if she should cook some for me for the next day and I had asked her not to thinking what was left in the bowl after dinner would be enough for me for the next day. Now, I didn't know that mamma was going to give that to our servant maid in the morning.

I needed food badly. The egg was ready. My mouth was watering. I asked my brother if he could cook some rice. He offered to get it from a nearby hotel. I didn't find that idea good given that I don't like the thick and sticky rice they cook in such hotels. I could have as well got something like a roll or anything from anywhere but I had craved for daal and rice with egg and I needed it. I called my grandmother and asked her if she had extra rice cooked for lunch which I could eat if I got to her house in sometime with the daal and the fried egg I had. She said there was plenty.

An hour later I was at her house. The moment I reached there I gave her the can which had that had to be warmed. Ten minutes later she served me my food. She even gave me fried potato chips which were prepared at home and another curry made with sojni ki phalli. It had meat in it. I ate enjoying each gulp and I felt I was eating food after ages. My grandmother was glad to see me at her house. I couldn't thank Allah enough for all that He gave me. Sometime later grandmother served me tea which again is a unique preparation she does. She makes it out of pure thick milk without adding water and making it boil for a lot of time. I took a short nap after that.

Yesterday mamma told us that she finally received the money from her office which she was supposed to be given to her several weeks back. It was a part of some arrears she was supposed to get and the management had withheld it for some reason. Even now, she said, they have given her Rs. 48,000 less and it has been kept as FD. She told me that in the last financial she had to pay more than Rs. 100,000 as income tax. Her tone told me not only how much amount the government takes away but also that she had accepted this fact and now lives with it without complaining. Later she showed me her Form 16 which is the legal proof of the tax she pays. I thought, we pay taxes when we are born, we pay taxes when we eat, we pay taxes when we earn, we pay taxes when we spend and we pay taxes when we die.

I spoke a lot while we were having dinner today. Yesterday I had suddenly started sweating and was feeling weak. Today too I began to feel myself weak again. I told my parents as they were still with their dinners. Mamma told me that I was talking a lot and so it makes me feel like that. I just said one thing which stopped her and my father complain that I was talking a lot. I said "this is the only time I get to talk to you all". Later when mamma and my brother went to sleep and father was still watching TV I sat beside him telling him about the times I had dreams showing me the end of our world. I told him that many times in my dreams I have seen this world ending, things coming to the final halt, that I saw moments in my dreams where I was waiting for Allah on the day of judgement to come and see if I had to go to heaven or hell. I told him a few more things before I came back to my computer in the living room.

I came to know from a friend that we have to pay another $100 to the US government before going to the embassy for the visa. That gave me a lot of discomfort. I was never told about it and I had never tired to find out if there were more bills to pay. I had missed that point in the check lists too. Mamma would give that money but it hurt me a lot because I had never planned for it. It hurts a lot when things happen unplanned. It disappoints a lot when things happen and we had not planned for him. There is always, or almost always, a plan for me. This time I had missed a point and it made me sad.

$100 might not be so big. But after looking at how much mamma is trying to have perfect documents prepared for me for visa I somehow felt I am being very unfair toward her. I know she won't tell much when I tell her about this extra bill. It will just be another small addition to what she is paying for me. Increasing cost of Dollar has been another disheartening thing. It makes a difference of another lakh Rupees. I know there are returns, I know it's all for good and everybody is happy with it, but these $100 didn't make feel good. Money, alhamdulillah, won't be a problem but I will wait for a day when I can tell my parents that we will never have to worry about money again. That day I know they will tell me that there was enough already given to us by Allah and it was not anything like a problem. And I will tell them that they both won't have to work for money again.

I had gone to college on Thursday all alone. I couldn't get what I wanted but did figure out how to get it. From there I went to my cousins' place. I had a good time with them though we did nothing like going out or anything specific. One of them dropped me home in the evening. We were supposed to meet again today but he got along with his friends to some farmhouse and we decided to meet later. Facebook is still good. Some times I wish I had a faster network my computer is connected to. Some times I wonder why people read and see about people in love or love stories or movies, enjoy them, show empathy and sacred concern, but never want to be a part of anything like what they read or see.

We always have options. Even in the worst of times; even when somebody is dead. It's not easy and nice to think about options in grave situations like death but when time passes by we realize that life itself had made the choice and has brought smiles back on our lips. I wouldn't complain if I have to go to Infosys instead of UTD. But I would be a little sad that I could have received a few more things than UTD if I could get F1 visa than starting with a job in India. There are always options. In every single phase and leap of our lives. As long as we are alive we have options we must use. We won't have any options when we are dead.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"We Will Never Be Here Again"

All normal people love meat. If I went to a barbeque and there was no meat, I would say, "Yo Goober! Where's the meat?" I'm trying to impress people here, Lisa. You don't win friends with salad.
-The Simpsons by Matt Groening, spoken by the character Homer Simpson

I received admission confirmations from all the five universities I had applied to. I have received I-20s from two of them till now and third is expected soon. I might not be getting I-20s from the other two university because I am not pursuing the formalities they ask me to complete. I have booked my visa interview slot at the US embassy for University of Texas at Dallas. It is the best of all five universities I had applied to and have received an I-20 from. The average GRE score of international graduate students studying here is well above 1300 and I will find a lot of competition there. They already had a strict cut-off of 1200 which, alhamdulillah, I had cleared with 10 points. Allah, as always, will decide if I should get the visa and go to Richardson or if I should catch up with Infosys in July.

It's always nice to know what I am going to do when sun comes up again. It gives good sleep with a smile on my lips. Though there were small things to be done some day or the other, I hardly found that kind of sleep. I am finishing it taking around 9 hours of rest in every 24 hours. Just that I don't sleep for more than 5 hours at a stretch. It's all fine alhamdulillah. I already have some of the visa documentation papers ready which was completed by my mother. In the coming days I have to pay visits to a bank and a charted accountant who will help me with having necessary proofs of sufficient funds belonging to my parents and evaluate property.

After sleep, it is Facebook that takes the most of my time. I don't do much there - just browse around. Solitaire too seems interesting before something else catches my attention. Then it is music till I get bored again. I am not able to read much - I simply don't get the right energy to move my eyes over printed lines. There is so much to be read and I will regret if I don't finish before I don't find time for it. Somehow, tomorrows come and go and I sit silently not understanding what to think. This at least is better than thinking what was left incomplete. Something seems to be left incomplete but I am not able to conceive it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Me As Well

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
- A.A. Milne
Though I have so many objects right in front of my eyes I see none of them but only what I have running in my mind. I don't see any faces or hear several voices as we see on TV, things are sharply discrete and they point at only one motif - true happiness. It's everywhere yet there are very few takers. I don't know where to start from. And I have no idea what I can write. Things overflow undocumented and my craving to have that touch never recedes. Not everybody is the same. It is not the same thing that gives happiness to everybody. Love for everybody is not the same.

I desire to write long essays directed to only one person with "you" in the paragraphs, but I do not know who that person is. I do not know why that "you" concerns me - a little less than hell of course. "You" is not a personification or perchance not even a human being. It is a craving. Or maybe companionship or perhaps an indignation or just an emotion not everybody acknowledges. Time is not the key. There are no locks. Those who call these patches as abstracts do not see the connection. They are not blind. They have chosen not to agree with the truth. They have decided to call themselves mature. They see authority as truth; not the truth as authority.

I asked myself a question whether I am the kind of person I would like to be a friend of. Apparently all I could see was I was biased and prejudiced. And more apparently I felt lonely. I would have rather called that loneliness as confusion because some times that is how generally it is perceived to be. We see what we intend to see when we are biased. We speak to create some worth for ourselves. I hear and I think. Will I prefer to be a friend to a person who is exactly like me? I tend to pull out solutions from the several things I hold in my mind. It doesn't mean I am confused.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


What a strange narrowness of mind now is that, to think the things we have not known are better than the things we have known.
- Samuel Johnson
Last Sunday my aunt came to meet us at home. After me, she congratulated my father. He asked the reason and she said about my admission for MS. My father replied saying it was not a big thing to get an admission but rather the visa is more important. Three days back I spoke to my father about this because I wanted to tell him that admission too was important if not as important as the visa. I told him that there are those still waiting for admits and gave him an example of a friend who has scored 1470 in GRE and still has to wait. My father asked me what the probable reason for his waiting could be. I said "it's Allah's will". He asked nothing else.

I was going back to my school-days I still remember. I can still picture that day when I wrote a short note to my class-teacher on a piece of paper about a boy sitting next to me who used to trouble me a lot. I can still recollect my teacher tearing that slip after reading it and changing my seating in the classroom. The guy was a bully those days but later he went on to become a good friend before I finished my 10th standard. I wasn't confident enough that day to speak to my teacher but the thing was so important that I somehow had to tell him. And I had said it. It was the need. A desperate attempt of a human being to find happiness.

I remember one more occasion where I was made to sit beside a guy I hated talking to. I never wanted to get close to him either. This strong aversion of mine towards him had started when I had come to know that he used to eat pork. It would be like hell sitting next to him in the class those days. I could never bear even getting close him. Then I had myself requested my teacher and my seating was promptly changed. I had not told my teacher about why I wanted the change. I had just requested and it was made. I used to be a good student scoring good marks. It was a favor I had asked for and it was granted. That was an attempt I had made yielding to my preferences and dislikes. Later in my schooldays I got close to many who ate pork. I never had the problem again. I don't know how and why I changed.

Change has never brought any difference to me directly. It became natural for me and not having change always troubles me now. Life has always been smooth with right things coming at the right times with the lessons teaching me what I must learn with time. I hardly had to take any crude means to learn what I was, how I came into being and how life progresses. I never had to rely on those bad guys in the school to tell me half-baked things. I was the one to read them from the right places and ask the right people. I never relied on fun as a means to learn what is serious.

I am inexplicably weak at times with my heart and emotions. I cannot tell how hard it is to have so many things in mind and to live along with what all I keep in my heart. But it's all about only one thing. And for the rest, it hardly matters. I go down stairs in my house at 3:30 am and close the door. I hear some new noise in the kitchen at 2 am and I go there and check. I hear some movement in the balcony at 2:30 am and I check it ready to see that thief there and scare him away. It never effects me mentally. I don't even get moved when I see dead bodies lying on the street after being crushed by moving vehicles. It barely hits me to hear how brutally a man was murdered when I read it in the newspaper. But when it comes to matters of loneliness and companionship I don't understand how people bear it.

I remember some years back when I couldn't sleep for a few days after hearing a dog howling in the night. Since then, I have heard many such howls and I have myself gone out to scare the dogs aways. I am not afraid of meeting a thief there. I am not scared if some ghost would pop in from some corner. I am not afraid of the darkness as I used to when I was a kid. These days I only think of my fear I had as a kid and I call it human behavior. I used to be so afraid of even sheep. And then one day I started slaughtering them.

I wonder how strong people are when things are about heart and people. I simply cannot understand how they can be so sullen so easily. I don't get the point behind being bold enough to stand loneliness without complaining. But when I look back at my life, I have been there several times. I have spent tens of days at home with nothing to do and nobody around for hours. I have seen the day my aunt died and saw my closed ones crying and yet I didn't shed a tear because it looked naive to me. My aunt's death was just to take her to a step closer to heaven. She was a very good person. My grandfather's death didn't make me cry. I only miss him only to realize that he is always there with me in my heart. But then, there is this thing that I can't stand, and my heart weeps.

I have taken too many lessons. I have seen my mother not having money to buy me a snack worth a Rupee. And now I see her letting me have money ready to be spent in hundreds and thousands. Change was always welcome. There was guidance always. Never in my life was my brother or I scolded for skipping prayers. We were told that it was mandatory for us and we kept skipping them. Then a time came when we realized what we have been doing and what we are. We changed ourselves. Our parents gave the guidance. Never forced us.

I remember the days we used to have yellow bulbs. The low voltage of electricity never used to allow us have any other kind of lighting in home. I was perhaps around 8 years in age. That day I had woken up from sleep and I was crying. My father had taken me in his arms and was walking in the house with me still crying and was trying to calm me down. I remember the yellow lights. I remember being carried in my father's arms. I don't remember why I was crying. I don't remember when I stopped crying.

I don't cry much these days. These days precisely. I watch myself telling how weak I am, how bad things can be and how much more I need to learn. Then I say "typical human behavior" and I let it go. I always find this option and use it with ease. I see that there is absolutely no friction in my life, the future is brighter than ever, things are so easy and nice for me, and yet I search for problems with me and I make them to seem larger than the life I live. I make my own life difficult and then I realize I am doing it. And then again, like a serious man, I say "human behavior".

I see people around - many of my elders. I see them doing mistakes, creating problems for others, solving some, aggravating some, being pointless, having big ego and not being righteous. I see that these are the so called mature people. It doesn't confuse me to call them mature and see them be so illogical. I just say "human behavior". That seems to be an easy answer to so many of my questions of why people have irrational and at times unruly behavior. It is never a shock for me not to see them behaving unbelievable. It's fine and if it's creating problems for me, I let them go. I forgive. I forgive myself. I just make it a point to remember that so and so person has so and so weakness and so and so thing irritates him.

But what about my problem? It is insufficient to call it human behavior. I don't see it much around. It's getting typical only of me. Others understand it, listen to me, help me, I just don't help myself. It seems impossible most of the times. And then I realize the options. I can be numb. I can be indifferent. But I have tried it before and have been termed as a sullen son by my mother. She has called me emotionally hard many times. Perhaps I am not able to have emotions expressed in the right proportions in front of the right people.

A thing that makes me blush and go pink in front of my friends barely makes me even smile in front of my parents. Only my heart does the work. A thing that makes me spend hours doing nothing can so easily be ran over whenever I want to yet I prefer staying with it. It's all just how I select my option to be happy. The so called problem too makes me happy. It's not about immaturity, it's not about what is right or what can be wrong. It is mostly about what I have chosen and decided as good for me and think of that good as a means to keep me happy. It is nothing wrong but it is not completely right with those who don't understand. If somebody today calls what all I am writing here as crap I would call it human behavior. It's perfectly alright. We are a different people. I don't like curds!

I remember watching this movie "Cast Away". The actor in lead role is Tom Hanks and he is marooned on a lonely island. There he makes a face out of a coconut shell and makes that face his friend. He relies on the shell for companionship. He begins to love that shell for it is his only friend there on that lonely island. And one day he gets frustrated with its lifelessness and throws it away. The next moment sense comes to him and he runs to pick that shell back. He cries for being rude towards that shell. He apologizes. He weeps and places that shell back to a safer place - in his heart and also on a clean stone in the rocks.

I fell in love with the idea of owning an island after watching this movie. But this shell and Tom's love for it goes great with my emotions. Many times I create such shells in my mind. Just for the sake of happiness. I never throw them away. I give them a lot of importance with respect. I try to explain that importance to others. Some understand. Some refuse its very existence. I enjoy, I hurt myself and I live past the fears and grief attached to it. All along I remember that it is just a shell. And I tell myself "typical human behavior" not knowing how many people do that.

It's only in the luxury of the company of friends that I can be indescribably illogical and keep on blabbering staying only on one side of the story realizing only later that there has been another side too which I had been ignoring because my love for the friend I was talking to was too much for me to have any logic being discussed and though about. Later when I recollect what all I had spoken, I see so much not being coherent and consistent. Yet my friend remains my friend - I don't know if that can remain forever. I find it easier to give in to the intellect of that friend letting that friend decide what is right and teach me. That is luxury and a blessing.

Having no problems and creating some for ourselves is luxury. "My" human behavior is just to bring me out of my comfort zone and show me more things I can probably have with me - as a luxury. To satisfy my emotions is probably not my need. I am perhaps strong enough to keep them tamed. But why do I do it when I have the chance to let them grow and satisfy them? I might as well be weaker than others in this part of life. But that's how we grow - strengthening ourself with knowledge and wisdom. What if I remain satisfied with what is coming to me and never ask Allah for more and never try for anything? My life would be boring and there won't be any change. We have this human tendency. We need to move further up in our levels of endurance and achievements. Corrections are always welcome.